Through our volunteer interactions with residents – the phone team, pharmie army, Molly’s Meals and call pals, we have seen locally that existing issues with social isolation have risen due to Covid 19. Many were struggling before the pandemic. Being isolated and imobile in their homes for over a year has caused frail and anxious residents to lose even more strength and confidence. Many run the risk of becoming permanently housebound without motivation and support to get out. As life returns to “normal”, they will continue to be affected. Being lonely and isolated often leads to depression, anxiety and significant physical and mental health issues. The Frome Project identified how a happier, more connected and supported community improved residents’ health and wellbeing and led to a dramatic reduction in hospital admissions and resulting fall in NHS costs.
The Covid19 Support Kenilworth Group’s focus has been to keep residents “safe at home” over the last 15 months. Now it is time to help support them to get out again, to reconnect with people and to provide support and motivation to regain some of their independence – both socially and physically. While elements of the current support provision (our core teams) will slow down and adapt to the changes in resident needs, we are setting up a project – Compassionate Kenilworth to help connect people to one another.
What We Need to Do
Mapping What is Already Out There
We are researching and compiling lists (“mapping”) of existing local support networks, local groups and organisations providing social activities, special interest groups and exercise opportunities. Where existing groups need help getting activities/events up and running again, we can provide support. Where there are gaps in provisions, we will endeavour to find ways to fill them. “Joining the dots” about what is provided locally, will help us to avoid duplications.
Communication with the Community
Once the local landscape has been mapped, we will house this on a link that will be embedded on our website and other local group/organisation websites. We will also promote opportunities to those who aren’t online – our most isolated. We will train Community Connectors (our volunteers and others) to spread the word about what local support, groups and activities are available to people. As seen by the Frome Project experience, for each Community Connector that is trained, they will likely have @12 dialogues each year with friends, acquaintances, colleagues and family, Multiply that by 100s of Community Connectors (volunteers) and word soon spreads across a community about how people can find support and activities to attend.
Working with our GP Surgeries – Social Prescribing and UHCW Compassionate Communities Team
We will continue to work closely with the local surgery Social Prescribers (who provide non-medical support within the community). We refer particularly vulnerable residents to our surgeries. Likewise social prescribers refer patients to our group to help identify potential opportunities to reduce social isolation andincrease mental and physical wellbeing. Partnering with UHCW Compassionate Communities team provides us with additional expertise, access to patient support and resources.