A new “social prescribing” service to help tackle loneliness and isolation among the over 65s in four areas of Kent has been launched by KCC.
The new pilot service is free and confidential, operating from 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. It was launched on International Social Prescribing Day, 18 March, as a trial in Folkestone East & Folkestone Harbour wards, Shepway North & Shepway South (Maidstone) wards, East Cliff & Northwood (Ramsgate) wards and Sheerness East & Sheerness West wards.
The scheme is part of the Connected Communities project co-funded by the European Union’s Interreg France (Channel) England Programme and developed in partnership with seven organisations from the UK and France (Kent County Council, Medway Council, Suffolk County Council, East Suffolk Council, University of Essex, Département de L’Eure en Normandie and Oise Le Département). All are committed to sharing international best practice to help address the challenge of a growing ageing population and helping people to stay independent in their own homes.
Mike Hill, KCC’s Cabinet Member for Community and Regulatory Services, said: “Social isolation is a growing problem. It can encompass loneliness, geographical and digital isolation issues, made worse by housing and other problems.
“In the UK 11% of the over 65s feel socially isolated. Living alone without support networks often prevents problems from being spotted early and increases the chances of needing long-term support in hospitals and care homes. Our new social prescribing service is here to help.”
Mateusz Marciniak, the KCC Operational lead on the project said that taking care of one’s health involves more than just medicine. With social prescribing, lonely and socially isolated individuals can take control of their own health and wellbeing by accessing specialist support.
He said: “Our new Social Prescribing service can help over 65s to improve their health and wellbeing and tackle loneliness. Through the programme they could learn a new skill or participate in a new activity.
“Our Community Connectors will support them while they take control of a range of situations, build up confidence and self-esteem, build new connections in the community and achieve a better quality of life”.
To find out more or make a referral to the service, visit the KCC website: www.kent.gov.uk/socialprescribing
To find out more about Connected Communities visit the project website: connected-communities.net
KCC’s new social prescribing service is part of the Connected Communities project co-funded by the European Union’s Interreg France (Channel) England Programme. The aim of the project is to reduce social isolation amongst vulnerable residents aged 65 and over, and who live in their own homes; to educate and join up voluntary and charitable organisations who support older people, so they can help keep vulnerable residents safe from scams and doorstep criminals; to share knowledge and learn from other partners.
Further information about social prescribing and the International Social Prescribing Day can be found at www.socialprescribingnetwork.com and www.gov.uk/government/publications/social-prescribing-applying-all-our-health/social-prescribing-applying-all-our-health