Preventing loneliness linked to frailty in the community
Loneliness and social isolation increase the risk of developing frailty; 10% of people over 65 years have a degree of frailty (Davies et al, 2021). People living with a degree of frailty are at higher risk of health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, lung disease, obesity, fractures and depression (Turner, 2014). In people aged over 65 years, hip fractures alone cost the NHS over £2.3 billion a year (NHS England/NHS Improvement, 2022). The NHS Long Term Plan (NHS England/NHS Improvement, 2019a) highlighted that personalised care can promote and support wellbeing and overall health outcomes. The plan emphasises the importance of a person-centred holistic approach, focusing on physical and mental health issues, while supporting people socially.
Social prescribing involves signposting people to a variety of local area-based services that can support them to become integrated into their community. It is made up of many different community and voluntary organisations that provide a wide range of services to match each individual's interests, such as gardening projects, information on becoming a volunteer, befriending services and education services (Buck and Ewbank, 2017). Some argue that there is not enough evidence on the effectiveness of social prescribing (Husk et al, 2019). However, NHS England/NHS Improvement (2019b) disputes this and has set out six key principles as a guide for a comprehensive personalised care model and believes working with trained social prescribing link workers is imperative. The six key principles are shared decision making, enabling choice, personalised care and support planning, supporting self-management, having access to personal health budgets and, finally, social prescribing and community-based support.
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