Tackling isolation projects
- Meeting of Scrutiny Committee, Tuesday 5 April 2016 6.15 pm (Item 111.)
- View the background to item 111.
The Scrutiny Committee requested a report on tackling elderly isolation. This was a high priority item for the Committee when it agreed its work plan for 2015-16 and follows a previous discussion in February 2015.
Why is it on the agenda?
For the Scrutiny Committee to consider the Council funded projects aimed at tackling elderly isolation and consider any future plans and the expected impacts of County funding cuts.
Who has been invited to comment?
Cllr Christine Simm, Board Member for Culture and Communities;
Cllr Gill Sanders, Older Person’s Champion;
Ian Brooke, Head of Community Services;
Luke Nipen, Communities Specialist Officer.
The Communities Specialist Officer introduced the report and highlighted the main outcomes of the different projects. The Board Member for Culture and Communities welcomed the positive results from a relatively modest investment and said that she would like there to be more emphasis and analysis around opportunities for older people to make positive contributions to the community through these projects in future. The Older Person’s Champion said that the £40k had been well spent and that she hoped this funding could continue, noting the importance of personal contact to people who were digitally excluded.
The Committee observed that the £40k of council funding for elderly isolation projects did represent good value for money by improving outcomes and making a difference to the lives of isolated older people.
The Committee noted that older people could be very active citizens and this group shouldn’t necessarily been seen just as one that needed support but also one that could contribute positively to the community in different ways. The Committee suggested that more could be done to facilitate and evaluate these positive contributions through funded isolation projects.
The Committee questioned how the longer term impacts of small-scale isolation projects were evaluated and whether an economic multiplier model could be used, similar to the social return on investment model used to evaluate the much larger Youth Ambition programme. The Committee heard that evaluating community development projects was key and that there were plans to involve university student volunteers in seeking to demonstrate and quantify the social impacts of these projects.
The Committee questioned the rationale for defining older people as the 50+ population, noting that many people in their 50s did not have the same needs as elderly people and that their involvement could result in other people feeling they were too old to participate in the projects. Members heard that the definition of older people had previously been extended to include people in their 50s in response to demand. Some people in their 50s had similar needs to elderly people and others were often thinking ahead to the future. The Committee suggested that consideration should be given to whether the Council could more effectively target funds at an older age profile, without interfering with the work of those like the 50+ network.
The Committee questioned whether the Council was looking to new models in terms of providing housing for elderly people and noted that a review of older people’s housing had recently taken place. The Committee suggested that housing models for the elderly should also be considered as part of the Local Plan review.
The Committee AGREED to make five recommendations to the City Executive Board:
1. That the Council continues to provide funding for projects aimed at tackling isolation.
2. That opportunities to involve older people in contributing to the community through isolation projects are maximised and evaluated.
3. That the Council looks to draw on external funding and resources in developing a social value assessment that can be used to demonstrate the social impact of isolation projects.
4. That consideration is given to whether the Council can more effectively target funds for tackling isolation at an older age profile given that the ‘older people’ group is defined as being the over 50 population.
5. That housing models for elderly people are considered as part of the Local Plan review.