It’s becoming increasingly clear that we are addressing loneliness rather than issues around social care. Our original idea came out of the work Oxford Computer Consultants has done with Social Care teams for Local Authorities. We had envisaged a system to help people access additional support for their elderly relatives with help from volunteers. The Local Authority might fund help for an older person getting up in the morning but not provide someone to chat with, or help with the shopping.
As we do more research, speaking to voluntary organisations about befriending networks and Good Neighbour Schemes, we realise that our narrative is wrong. We are not trying to design something to help in the field of social care. We are designing something to help reduce loneliness.
Loneliness is becoming increasingly common and it’s affecting our health. It’s an issue for people of all ages, not just the elderly. There has been a great deal of interest in the subject recently and many of you will already be aware of the John Lewis Christmas advert or the excellent BBC documentary The Age of Loneliness
So to continue our research, we’re off to Cardiff tomorrow to attend a conference run by the Campaign to End Loneliness. We’re looking forward to attending the workshops on Using Technology to Reduce Loneliness, Social Finance and Identifying Older People Experiencing, or at Risk of, Loneliness, finding out what’s out there already and meeting people working in the same field.