Partnership case study: ‘Initiatives to tackle social isolation in older people’

Nottingham City Homes (NCH) recognises that social isolation and loneliness is increasingly becoming a problem for older residents. It is the biggest cause of premature death in the elderly, and impacts upon both physical and mental health and wellbeing. NCH is committed to supporting those at risk.

Our challenge

As a landlord we manage around 29,000 homes across Nottingham, housing 25% of the city’s population. Of those 29,000 over 2,500 live in our independent living schemes (ILS) and a further 5,000 tenants living in our general needs stock are aged over 60 years, the majority of these live alone.

Social isolation and loneliness are the biggest cause of death in older people, and have a profound effect on people’s health and mental wellbeing. The evidence for this is well documented.

Our main target group is older tenants, but we also work with people who are living with a disability.

The aim of the work is to not only reduce social isolation and loneliness but to move people along on their personal journey, helping them to be more independent, building confidence and developing new opportunities for those who wish to be involved within their communities. 

It has the business benefit of improving the housing offer we make to our older tenants and reducing long-term voids.

Our solution

NCH has developed new roles within its supported housing team aimed at reducing incidents of social isolation and loneliness amongst our older tenants.

A dedicated activity coordinator has been appointed to work with residents in our ILS schemes to design and deliver activities. Some of these activities are held within the schemes and residents from surrounding areas and from other schemes are encouraged to take part. Other activities occur off site and where needed we support tenants to access these activities.  The programme links in with the Fit in the Community project which is funded through Sports England and aims to get our inactive tenants, across all age groups, participating in activities.

We can deliver training for tenants through our NCH Tenant’s Academy. Training has ranged from ICT courses run by ClickSilver, to Train the Trainer events which build capacity for tenants to be able to deliver activities themselves.

The activities can act as a conduit to tenants being able to access other services, such as falls prevention or assistive technology. It helps people to develop routines of being involved, and being active, and wherever possible accessing wide community events and getting them out from the confines of ‘their own 4 walls’.

There is well documented evidence showing that where people are physically and mentally active they have improved physical and mental wellbeing. They are likely to remain independent for longer, slowing down the demand for more critical health and social care services.

We are starting to gather information on talents our tenants might have and activities they would like to be involved in so that can inform future activity programmes, 

We advertise the work of other organisations such as CLICK Nottingham and Age UK and encourage our tenants to get involved in activities they organise.

Our impact

We measure the number of activities we deliver and the number of participants. It can be difficult to keep track of this as tenants become more self-reliant and deliver activities themselves, with little or no input from NCH.

Our partners

In delivering the activities we work in partnership with a number of different organisations, including:

  • Age UK
  • CLICK Nottingham
  • Sports England
  • Nottingham City Council Sports and Leisure Team
  • Age Friendly Nottingham
  • ClickSilver
  • Signposting Service

The activity coordinator is funded by NCH, and their role forms part of our core housing offer to older tenants in ILS schemes.

Our role          

Activities can take place in housing owned assets such as community rooms of independent living schemes and community centres.

The activity coordinators are directly employed by NCH, but they have access to a wide range of services provided either directly by NCH or by partner organisations.

The activity coordinators are fully trained. They have a budget to enable them to support activities, but a lot of their work is based upon the use of existing community assets and services.

Our contribution to improving health

Our project is aimed at delivering the following health outcomes:

  • reducing social isolation and loneliness
  • preventing demand for primary and secondary care services
  • increasing community asset capability
  • promoting independent living
  • increasing the uptake of other preventative services such as Assistive Technology and Falls Prevention