In response to this, our sheltered housing team are currently making approximately 3,700 calls per week to our elderly and vulnerable residents. This includes 1,860 sheltered residents and 430 lifeline customers. This is likely to increase significantly over the coming weeks as we aim to contact the most vulnerable every day.

Jude Wilkins, head of sheltered housing and support services said: ‘We can’t be out in the community at the moment, but we carry out vital calls to our customers. To some, this may be the only call they receive that day, so we want to check in not only to see if they are physically well, but also to say hello and have a chat if they want to. Isolation for the elderly can be a very lonely situation to be in.’

Research shows that half a million older people regularly experience these kinds of protracted periods of isolation, going at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all. During the Coronavirus outbreak it’s especially important we can stay in touch with people who are alone.

Sheltered community rooms and facilities are currently closed to minimise any risks, but this contributes to the social exclusion and isolation many elderly residents are facing.  To combat this, in addition to the regular phone calls, we are also setting up a private Facebook group for our residents to join and chat with each other. In Extra Care homes, colleagues are offering residents a “joke a day“ to raise spirits.

Magna has compiled an online list of community hubs and help groups in Dorset and Somerset and publish this regularly on social media channels to ensure as many people in the community have access to the help and support they need. This list is regularly updated: https://www.magna.org.uk/my-community/coronavirus-community-networks/

Our sheltered housing advisors are also working with community volunteers and support groups, advising of people in need who require essential shopping and prescription collections.

Jude added: ‘In a time of such uncertainty, keeping spirits up and people safe is our priority. A community spirit, albeit online or at a distance, will make all the difference to many people who are self-isolating.’

For Magna’s latest news and information, visit www.magna.org.uk

Statistics on loneliness and older people:

  • The number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6. This compares to around 1.4 million in 2016/7 – a 49% increase in 10 years (Age UK 2018, All The Lonely People)
  • There are 1.2 million chronically lonely older people in the UK (Age UK 2016, No-one should have no one).
  • Half a million older people go at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all (Age UK 2016, No-one should have no one).
  • Over half (51%) of all people aged 75 and over live alone (Office for National Statistics 2010. General Lifestyle Survey 2008).
  • Two fifths all older people (about 3.9 million) say the television is their main company (Age, U.K., 2014. Evidence Review: Loneliness in Later Life. London: Age UK).
  • There are over 2.2 million people aged 75 and over living alone in Great Britain, an increase of almost a quarter (24%) over the past 20 years (ONS).

These statistics are taken from the Campaign to End Loneliness website, which provides lots of information and useful resources: https://www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/the-facts-on-loneliness/