Before I became a student nurse I was passionate about care of older adults and always affected by stories of older people who were lonely.
It doesn’t feel right. There are so many of us in this world and yet some people don’t speak to anyone for days on end.
”We shouldn’t make ourselves the only social interaction our patients have and it would be great if we could find more creative ways to support them”
This month I wanted to tell you about a charity I’m passionate about, Contact the Elderly. I’m not asking for money, or even for your time, although that would be good. I am asking for people to think about the charities out there and how they can help the people we are supporting.
There are so many people out there and our role as nurses is quite limited. We shouldn’t make ourselves the only social interaction our patients have and it would be great if we could find more creative ways to support them.
Contact the Elderly is a fantastic charity. They focus solely on tackling loneliness and social isolation in older adults using tea and cake.
”They rely on wonderful hosts who invite a group of older people into their home one Sunday a month”
Sounds good, doesn’t it?
They rely on wonderful hosts who invite a group of older people into their home one Sunday a month (Sunday afternoons are seen as the loneliest time of the week).
Then there are the drivers. They collect the guests and take them to and from the host. They also get to enjoy the tea and cake. And the cake is so good! I can’t bake for toffee, but I can certainly eat.
Some guests may feel nervous at the thought of the group and think they’ll struggle to interact but I have never seen this happen. The groups are always welcoming and people from different generations simply sit and chat.
”Over two-thirds of the guests at Contact the Elderly only have one visitor a week. What a scary figure”
Often the hosts organise something special, such as a theme, which enables people to reminisce and talk about their lives. The hosts change each month but the drivers remain the same. This allows for wonderful relationships to develop and real links are made with the community. Over two-thirds of the guests at Contact the Elderly only have one visitor a week. What a scary figure.
There are studies showing that loneliness does not just impact on the mental wellbeing of an individual but also their physical health.
As a nurse we are looking to improve upon both mental and physical health of our patients so any referral to a charity tackling social needs can help.
According to one study, social contact has been shown to lower blood pressure during that period. How easy!
”Nursing as a profession cannot take all the strain and there are many wonderful organisations out there that are ready and willing to help”
I’m not naive and I know people have complex needs, but if we can help by a quick referral (with consent of course) then why not? Nursing as a profession cannot take all the strain and there are many wonderful organisations out there that are ready and willing to help.
If you can spare a couple of hours one Sunday a month then please visit to the Contact the Elderly website to learn more.
Vicki Abrahams is Student Nursing Times’ adult branch student editor