With Health Education England hosting their Tackling Loneliness Webinar on 30 June, we’re joined by Dr Kalpa Kharicha in today’s guest blog. Kalpa will be one of the expert panel members at the event and tells us more about the new e-learning resource she collaborated on.
We know that chronic loneliness puts individuals at greater risk of both mental and physical health problems and a lack of social connections increases the risk of premature mortality. People who are lonely make greater use of health and social care services, visit their GPs more often, have more emergency admissions and are more likely to move into long term care.
What does this mean for health and social care practitioners and the wider public health workforce and what role can they play in supporting people who are lonely or at risk that they work with?
The Campaign to End Loneliness has worked with Public Health England and Health Education England to develop an e-learning resource on tackling loneliness and social isolation. This resource can help practitioners recognise and respond to loneliness in those they care for and apply simple interventions that will that can make a positive difference.
The course introduces what we mean by loneliness, the characteristics of individuals and circumstances that can put people at risk and how chronic loneliness can manifest itself and affect health. Using the principles of Making Every Contact Count, the course suggests ways of initiating and embedding conversations about social connection. Allowing time to develop a trusting relationship and encouraging people to talk about their feelings, can help people feel listened to, help alleviate loneliness and develop a tailored approach. The course draws on what we know about interventions from the evidence and suggests routes for signposting to further support.
Loneliness is a subjective experience and can affect people of all ages and be triggered by a range of different life events. The course contains five audio stories, told by the Haylo theatre company of different circumstances in which people have experienced loneliness and the types of intervention that helped. It includes accounts of leaving home and starting university, new parenthood, divorce, bereavement and disability.
This tool offers a resource to practitioners who play a key and often unrecognised role in helping people to rebuild their connections and find meaningful engagement, and is particularly timely after the challenges of Covid-19.
You can join Health Education England and an expert panel discussing the adverse impact loneliness has on healthcare on 30 June at 12pm. Hear about the broader impact of, and the stigma associated with, loneliness and social isolation. As well as finding out how you can spot the signs, refer, or signpost those identified at risk of loneliness and social isolation.
The webinar will also introduce the new e-learning resource developed by HEE in collaboration with Public Health England and the Campaign to End Loneliness
Chaired by Professor Simon Gregory, HEE Deputy Medical Director, speakers include :
- *Chris Sharp – Workforce Development Lead – North East and Yorkshire (Public Health England)
- * Dr. Kalpa Kharicha – Head of Research, Policy and Practice (Campaign to End Loneliness)
- * Gay Palmer, Social Prescribing Link Worker (National Academy of Social Prescribing)
Dr Kalpa Kharicha is Head of Research, Policy and Practice for the Campaign to End Loneliness.