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  • Debbie Thrower

On 'Recovery and Reintegration' – older people have their say

Updated: May 13


'Recovery and Reintegration’ is a report published as we emerge from the pandemic by Time to Talk Befriending, the Sussex-based charity which incorporates a team of Anna Chaplains.


The surveys on which the report is based were completed by 98 scheme members (25%) and returned by mid-April 2021. The average age of participants is 83 years, and the majority are living alone in the community with at least one long-term health condition.


Questions ranged from, 'What is your biggest concern right now?' and 'How would you rate your overall emotional and mental health?' to 'Do you feel confident to go out and socialise?'


Top concerns were:

  • Health related – cancelled health appointments, increasing mobility issues.

  • Feeling isolated and alone – especially as everything has been closed down.

  • Loss of motivation – indifference to everyday chores.

  • Worried about Covid-19 – hope there will be no more lockdowns.

  • Social – not being able to go outside and meet family, friends.

  • Economic – paying bills.

36% of scheme members self-rated that their overall emotional and mental health was excellent, very good or good, while 41% of scheme members self-rated their emotional and mental health as fair and 22% of scheme members self-rated as poor.


As to how ready people were to re-engage socially, 28% stated they felt confident to go out and socialise. However, 66% stated they did not feel confident to go out and socialise.

Also asked, 'Is there anything else you wish to share about engaging with Time to Talk Befriending?' a respondent replied:

' I have grown in my spiritual faith and I thank God and Time to Talk Befriending for this'

As so much befriending switched to telephone befriending, comments on the new way of communicating included:


'I enjoy the phone calls very much; we have a good conversation every time. I am not a person who likes face-to-face meetings (big groups).'
'I really enjoy my phone calls with my befriender. I enjoy talking and befriending with all the ladies.'
'I have had a weekly telephone call for an hour with a lady my age. We really do have a good chat and I look forward to it. Thanks to Time to Talk Befriending.'

In summary:


What our short survey has shown is that many scheme members have been adversely affected by the extended Covid-19 lockdowns with feelings described as 'unmotivated', 'lost confidence', 'isolated and lonely'. Scheme members have however really appreciated the telephone befriending calls, which have provided a form of social connectedness.


There is a wealth of evidence confirming how loneliness impacts on a person’s health and well-being, so the level of self-reported physical health deterioration of scheme members within the surveys, due to less exercise and cancelled or postponed medical appointments, is concerning.


For example, there were concerns regarding increasing health needs. Mental and physical health. Feeling lightheaded and falling over. Mobility. Going into hospital. Weight gain. Anxiety and recurrence of mental health issue. Health. Easing loneliness. No contact, isolation. Not being able to go outside. Being able to cope with these changes. Lack of motivation. Being lonely in the evenings. Lack of confidence. Isolation, loneliness, confidence and motivation. Loneliness can be part of a cycle of negative outcomes, since experiencing mental and physical health problems can also lead to feelings of loneliness.


Feeling lonely can also affect how we perceive others and view our place in society, causing us to withdraw even more.


Many scheme members self-reported that their emotional and mental health has deteriorated due to having to self-isolate or shield, not seeing family members or being able to spend time with friends.


Currently, 66% of scheme members have stated they are not yet ready to begin face-to-face meetings.


Read the full report.


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