That the representatives from Age UK, the Positive Ageing Council and Lewisham Pensioners Forum and the Deputy Mayor be thanked for attending and providing evidence to the Committee.
4.1 Catherine Mbema, Interim Director of Public Health presented the report to the Committee. During the discussion, the following key points were raised:
· Members of the Committee requested information on the numbers of older people in Lewisham receiving a form of intervention to prevent loneliness.
· The intervention strategies aligned different target groups including suicide prevention. It was recognised that men were at most risk of suicide and the age group 25-44 was the highest risk group within this.
· There were different referral routes for intervention such as through GPs and through other community groups. Work was on-going to try to improve links between organisations and monitoring.
4.2 Councillor Chris Best, Deputy Mayor, presented to the Committee and highlighted the different work that was on-going. During her presentation and in the discussion that followed, the following key points were made:
· There was positive work on-going linked to the adult isolation and services to the elderly work. This included: presentations at local assemblies; referrals; individual Councillors reaching-out; free swimming for over 60s; outdoor gyms; healthy walks programme; dementia friends programme.
· Meet me at the Albany was hugely successful and was expanding and also being replicated in Downham.
4.3 Camilla Biggs and Alice Groux from Age UK presented to the Committee. During their presentation, the following key points were highlighted:
· Age UK worked with the public health team and ward assemblies. They had supported 967 people.
· Through the SAIL Connections pathway (Safe and Independent Living) there had been 1435 referrals.
· Age UK worked closely with the Council and were now based at Laurence House with the Adult Social Care Team which facilitated a joined up approach to information sharing and support.
· Around 50% of their clients were over 50. Another key group was supporting people with the transition from children’s to adult’s social care services.
· Social isolation could be caused by mental ill health, alcohol and drugs misuse, mobility issues, sight loss, hearing problems and conditions such as dementia, as well as issues such as living away from family and friends. There could be a long waiting list for support.
· Age UK looked at gaps in service provision and strengths each year and challenges for different community groups and minorities.
4.4 Iris Till, Chair Positive Ageing Council presented to the Committee. During the presentation the following key points were raised:
· Isolation and loneliness could be invisible and the Positive Ageing Council was always focussed on how to reach out and engage and identify where there was a problem.
· The group was working closely with Council officers such the Cultural Development Officer and had designed a programme called “table talk”.
· Thinking about venues and where to engage was important. There was the potential to include; libraries; pubs; supermarkets; health centres.
· The organisation was also running focus groups about Lewisham becoming an “age-friendly borough”.
· Lewisham Council had a number of positive initiatives such as the free swimming and gym for over 60s and the Council should be proud of this.
4.5 Bridgit Sam Bailey and Tracey Jarrett from Lewisham Pensioners Forum presented to the Committee and highlighted the following key points:
· There was a distinction between loneliness and being isolated.
· Issues such as relocation could be very unsettling and distressing for people.
· Barriers to access to services for older people could be a challenge including transport to get there being problematic or booking and contact systems being confusing.
· In terms of access to public transport this could include not being offered seats on buses making journeys too challenging and lack of access for users with a disability.
· The forum was developing a new strategy and vision and was combining organising visits and outings with on-going projects and a campaigning role.
· This included a number of projects such as: pensioners’ parliament; friendship quilt; healthy walks; yoga; digital drop-ins and more.
· The Forum was working in partnership with other groups and was focused on reaching out and collaborating.
4.6 In the discussion that followed the presentations, the following key points were raised:
· None of the three organisations provided an advocacy service. Age UK provided information, advice and guidance but did not represent individuals.
· It would be positive to have a hospital advocacy service for vulnerable individuals.
· The Council’s Cultural Development Officer worked with all the funded organisation relating to age-friendly and dementia-friendly activities.
· New mothers could be vulnerable to isolation and loneliness. Work was being done with health visitors to link up to vulnerable new parents. There was a Mindful Mums programme that people could be referred to.
· A member of the Committee highlighted that partnerships with universities could be used to support advocacy for vulnerable individuals such as through law clinics at universities.
· Age UK working with Adult Social Care was helping to avoid people “falling through the gaps” by not meeting thresholds for adult social care but were vulnerable and needed extra support. Deterioration was tracked where possible on a case by case basis.
· Members of the committee felt there was a lot of positive work in Lewisham that needed to be celebrated.
· A member of the Committee asked regarding additional information appearing in Council publications and on-line and more work on recruiting for befriending schemes. The Deputy Mayor responded that there was lots of information online including a social prescribing directory. She would use the information from the meeting and the comments raised when looking further at these issues. She had noted in particular information regarding law clinics and befriending schemes.
· A member of the Committee felt that the Chair of the Transport Liaison Committee may be interested in the issues regarding isolation from barriers to accessing public transport and might wish to invite the Positive Ageing Council and Lewisham Disability Forum to a future meeting.
(1) That the representatives from Age UK, the Positive Ageing Council and Lewisham Pensioners Forum and the Deputy Mayor be thanked for attending and providing evidence to the Committee.
(2) That the positive work being carried out in Lewisham should be celebrated.
(3) That the Deputy Mayor review the information available on the Council website in relation to services of relevance to adult isolation, in particular information regarding law clinics and befriending schemes.
(4) That the Chair of the Transport Liaison Committee consider inviting the Positive Ageing Council and Lewisham Disability Forum to a future