The topic of isolation and loneliness among older people has risen to the top of the policy agenda and hit the headlines.
The realisation that loneliness seriously impacts the physical and mental wellbeing of older people, contributing to the cost of our public health system, has resulted in Care Services minister Norman Lamb announcing a new duty on Local Authorities to measure loneliness and isolation in their communities.
Initiatives like the Campaign to End Loneliness and its recent Connect + Act event are also putting the spotlight on the issue, encouraging policy makers and providers to tackle a reality we could all face.
As we age it is inevitable that, due to the passage of time, we lose family and friends. Mobility and other health issues can also restrict our interaction with the outside world, compounding the feeling of isolation.
Combine this with the need to retain independence and many older people are going through daily life where the television is their sole source of company because they don’t want to ‘’be a burden’’.
The hard truth of what he was saying was brought to life by the comments of one gentleman who responded to the blog.
It is an issue that is very close to our hearts at Evermore, and a factor that motivated us to establish this new model in retirement living for over 80s.
We want our parents to continue doing the things they love, enjoying friendships and companionship, living life to the full, and celebrating their individualism and independence.
But in our view the current housing available for older people is not conducive to this.
It is our goal to help over 80s to live happy so we’ve created an intentional community that has a small number of apartments clustered around a central kitchen and living area. This design encourages conversation and daily interactions that provides vital social contact, but also gives older people the opportunity to retreat and enjoy the privacy of their own home.
Our Evermore Village will also have an area that the outside community can utilise, whether it’s a supermarket or a meeting space, to facilitate inter-generational connections.
But even more important than the bricks and mortar, and what makes Evermore truly different, is the unique emotional environment that will break down the barriers that can cause isolation.
Our Mulinellos are enablers rather than carers, there to help make things happen for the community. They’ll encourage independence instead of restricting it but also help bring people together.
Decisions to do with daily-life will be made by the Evermore community rather than senior management and then enforced by a stern matron. It won’t be an older person crèche where stereotypes are perpetuated by activities like sing-alongs around a piano if that’s not what they want.
It truly will be like living in a family household where everyone has roles and responsibilities but also companionship. We’ll provide a lifestyle that older people can look forward to rather than dread, so they can embrace the future when the time comes to move out of their home.
We believe Evermore is the innovation that older people want but don’t just take our word for it. Take a look at the Green House Project and read the research by the Housing LIN into how extra-care housing can help older people enjoy fulfilling, socially-connected lives.
If you like what you see, come and join us.