A snap shot from the Bolton Clarke Symposium – Social Connection in Older Age

On Thursday 4th April in Brisbane, Bolton Clarke hosted a symposium called Social Connection in Older Age. The symposium was jam-packed with evidence of the need and what works to prevent or reduce social isolation and loneliness among older Australians in the community and in care.

Key take-aways from the symposium included:

*  People who are lonely have worse physical and mental health and are more likely to be depressed. With 1 in 4 Australians feeling lonely this is a growing concern (Lim, Rodebaugh, Zyphur and Gleeson, 2016).

*  Social connections are as important to health as regular exercise or not smoking. Meaningful participation in groups is significant and researchers are calling for a ‘social cure’ (Jetten, Haslam, Haslam and Branscombe, 2009).

*  The Older Women Living Alone (OWLa) study is examining the barriers and enablers to accessing services, and what strategies older women may need to maximise their health, wellbeing and independence.

*  The One Good Street initiative, uses social networking to give neighbours the opportunity to offer knowledge, assistance and skills for older people and their carers through a supported platform that recognises the resources are already available and includes positive ageing activities and education.

* Group singing can increase social bonding, wellbeing and assist and memory decline in older adults (Dingle, Williams, Jetten, and Welch 2017)

The symposium drove home the importance of monitoring and evaluating programs to help improve services and deliver optimum support to beneficiaries. This means not only collecting data and analysing it but translating the evidence into practice, so that you meet the real needs of your cause. Strong evidence can help your organisation demonstrate capabilities, underscore the need you want to address and illustrate how your service aids your beneficiaries; all of which are important to know when applying for and to secure funding.

Evaluation and monitoring are necessary activities at all stages of program development. Evaluation and monitoring forms the basis for continuous improvement and value for money service delivery.

If you don’t have a monitoring and evaluation framework in place give us a call. Or check out our webinar here