Age UK Northamptonshire introduces new ways to combat loneliness. 

Age UK Northamptonshire is to introduce new ways to support older people in response to COVID-19. The charity is developing new community services to add to those they already supply. It will involve care staff visiting clients at home, who are unable to access services in the community. The service will respond to client requests, providing companionship and a variety of activities which will have been desperately missed because of lockdown and shielding restrictions.

The locally funded charity, who supports 15,000 older people across Northamptonshire every year has seen that the easing of lockdown for the general population does not necessarily make it easier for older people to go out and socialise in the way they did before the pandemic. The lack of interaction and social isolation has often led to high levels of loneliness. Studies show that loneliness also puts older people at risk of cognitive decline and dementia, depression, coronary heart disease, stroke and increases the chance of mortality by 26%.

The charity was forced to temporarily close their popular day centres in March which has had an impact on the health and wellbeing of older people. Clients have been keen to return to the centres to enjoy the company of others and reduce loneliness. Balancing the increased risk the virus poses to older people, Age UK Northants will be restarting day centres with reduced numbers, initially at Northampton’s Venton Centre with the aim of restarting other county-wide centres too. The provision will be modified given the new rules regarding social distancing but will provide the same positive experience for many of the county’s most vulnerable older people.

Despite the many challenges that COVID-19 has provided the community, Age UK Northamptonshire have developed ways to support older people. Along with the new at-home service, plans are being formulated for the charity to:

  • Continue to offer shopping and prescription delivery.
  • Continue to offer the delivery of hot meals.
  • Continue to offer online exercise classes.
  • Reintroduce a sitting service specifically for carers who previously relied upon our services to enable them to have a break.

Chris Duff, Age UK Northamptonshire’s Chief Executive, said “Social distancing requires that support will need to be organised around small groups of clients in future. We will be doing everything we can to provide support to our clients who need it at this difficult time, individually in their homes or in small groups. We will be building up our provision, new and existing, as fast as we can to meet the needs of clients and keep them safe’’.

Age UK Northamptonshire hope to launch their new service in September and more information will be available via www.ageuk.org.uk/northamptonshire or call 01604 611200.