CHALLENGE 2 – SOCIAL ISOLATION

How can we use data to develop systems that will assist in tackling social isolation in our local authority?

YOUR TASK

Design a data-informed solution, which would help us achieve the following:

  • Use and present data to reduce levels of social isolation in the borough;

  • Identify isolated people at the earliest point to reduce or prevent health deterioration;

  • Connect isolated people with useful services and activities;

  • Bring communities together to raise awareness and tackle the issue.

OUR CHALLENGE

Social isolation currently affects 9-million people in the UK. The effects of isolation are staggering. It can increase your chances off dementia by 64%, it has the same physical impact as obesity or smoking 15 cigarettes a day, it increases mortality by 26% and it accelerates physiological ageing. When it persists, it can result in people going into care and cause premature death.

At Barking and Dagenham Council, we have been running a project, which looks at social isolation and what can be done to identify those at risk, and reduce, prevent and delay people from developing health issues related to social isolation.

During our research, we identified 6 areas that needed to be improved to combat social isolation:

  1. First steps (GP referrals, awareness of problem)

  2. Funding (lack of transport and venues)

  3. Person-centred (targeted interests, home visits to engage isolated)

  4. Working together (peer support, more volunteer-led services)

  5. Partnerships (communication between services, networking, sharing information)

  6. Access (information accessible to everyone)

We want to investigate how data and digital solutions can be used to improve these areas.

"We would like to create new community solutions, which assists in the prevention and early intervention of social isolation by raising awareness of social isolation as a cause of someone requiring social care, assisting GPs when they are social prescribing, and by encouraging community independence."

THE LOCAL CONTEXT

We have found that within our borough, the age group that are most affected by social isolation are 45-54 year olds who have recently gone through a life changing situation, such as divorce, death of partner, retiring, reduction in mobility, lack of economic resources, access to technology, redundancy, pregnancy, addiction and homelessness.

The biggest challenges we face within our borough are: funding to tackle this issue, public knowledge of services that are available, being able to identify those who are isolated, the ability to raise awareness of the issue and services.

One of our strongest assets lies in the breadth of services that are currently available within the borough: Volunteer Bureau, organisations commissioned by Adult Social Care, such as Red Cross, Carers of Barking and Dagenham, Harmony House, Independent Living Agency. However, we're also aware that these services could improve how they work together.

FURTHER READING

Common Service Providers

  • DABD (Disablement Association of Barking and Dagenham) dabd.org.uk
  • Volunteer Driver Scheme- volunteerdriver.lbbd.gov.uk
  • Talking Therapies- 0300 300 1554
  • NELFT Mental Health Direct- 0300 555 1000
  • Listening Zone- 0300 555 1012
  • MIND- 0300 123 3393
  • CAMHS- 0300 555 1035
  • Big White Wall- bigwhitewall.com
  • Alzheimer’s Society- 0208 517 4522
  • Community Learning Disability Team- 0208 227 5432