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Inquiry into loneliness and isolation

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There is evidence that loneliness and isolation can have a significant impact on physical and mental health; preventing loneliness and isolation may therefore help to reduce demand for health and social services. Many older people live alone, experience poor health and are unable to participate in social activities without help and support, especially in rural areas.  This leaves them vulnerable to loneliness and isolation. Loneliness and isolation are not the same thing – each can be experienced without the other.  There is a need for evidence on good practice in addressing loneliness and isolation, identifying what does and doesn’t work and how best to use existing and additional resources most effectively. The Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 places certain requirements on public bodies which includes setting wellbeing objectives.  The Welsh Government has published national indicators of wellbeing as required by section 10(1) of the Act.  There are 46 indicators, one of which (30) is the “percentage of people who are lonely”.  Other indicators are concerned with related issues such as mental well-being.  The Minister for Social Services and Public Health has stated (30/9/16) that she recognises loneliness and isolation as important public health issues on which the Welsh Government is committed to developing a cross-government strategy.

Terms of reference:

The Committee’s aim was to assess the extent and impact of loneliness and isolation experienced by people in Wales, particularly older people, and how it can be addressed, by considering:

  • the evidence for the scale and causes of the problems of isolation and loneliness, including factors such as housing, transport, community facilities, health and wellbeing services;
  • the impact of loneliness and isolation on older people in terms of physical and mental health and wellbeing, including whether they disproportionately affect certain groups such as those with dementia;
  • the impact of loneliness and isolation on the use of public services, particularly health and social care;
  • ways of addressing problems of loneliness and isolation in older people, including interventions to specifically address the problems and other projects with wider aims.  Evidence for what works and the outcomes for older people in terms of health and wellbeing; 
  • the extent to which initiatives to combat loneliness and isolation experienced by other groups may also help to address these issues for older people;
  • current policy solutions in Wales and their cost effectiveness, including the Ageing Well in Wales programme.  The approach taken by the Welsh Government in terms of maintaining community infrastructure and support, and using the legislative framework created in the Fourth Assembly, e.g. the Social Services and Wellbeing (Wales) Act 2014 and the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. 

Evidence gathering

The Committee invited views on this issue.

Report

Report on the inquiry into loneliness and isolation – December 2017 (PDF 763KB)

 

Welsh Government Response – February 2018 (PDF 166KB)

Reason considered: Assembly Business;

Type: For information

First published: 11/01/2017

Considered on: Meeting Date by Health, Social Care and Sport Committee

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