PA Housing tackles social isolation
2018 - March, Latest news
Loneliness is bad for your health. But PA Housing is combating isolation among its residents.
As early as 1988 an article in the journal Science noted that a lack of social relationships was almost as bad as smoking cigarettes, high blood pressure, obesity and inactivity.
In spite of that an increasing number of people are now living alone, with the potential to face isolation. More than a quarter of households in the UK now have only one person. It's currently 7.7 million and rising.
Around 2.2 million of them are over 75, although the fastest growing group is 45-64 year olds: empty nesters, newly separated or widowed.
So what does PA Housing do to help people stay in touch with others? Our Independent Living Teams help residents stay in their homes as long as they can, without facing isolation. Some of the projects they have arranged are:
- Coffee mornings and tea afternoons
- A knitting circle that creates items for a local hospital, such as baby blankets
- Christmas lunch for residents who would have been alone
- A charity fashion show.
Our Digital Transformation Project also helps by encouraging those without computer skills to get online. Being connected to the digital world broadens opportunities; boosts social inclusion; opens doors to communication; reduces isolation.
A US study of 309,000 people showed that those with a strong social network were almost 50% more likely to live for the next 10 years than those without. NHS England's Chief Nursing Officer Prof Jane Cummings issued a warning last winter that loneliness and cold could be a lethal combination for those over 75.
One of the biggest changes to housing has been a huge increase in the number of people living alone. More than a quarter of all households in the UK contain just one person. It is partly because people are living longer. But it is also about lone parents after their children leave home, and the newly single as a consequence of relationship breakdown.