England & Wales Communities and society, Health and social care

Tackling social isolation in old age through Social Prescription & Community Coordination


Loneliness is a common problem among older people – and it appears many are turning to their GP for help. New research suggests that thousands of individuals over the age of 65 are visiting their GP each year because they are lonely.

The GPs are becoming for many elderly and lonely people the front line for making contact and seeking help.

We know that loneliness has a devastating impact on health, and clearly it also puts a strain on GP and NHS resources:. This presents a clear set of challenges to GPs, commissioners, and service providers.

Not only do GPs need to communicate better, (A study in Holland showed that there are GPs who never ask patients about loneliness. Others mostly raise the topic indirectly), but there also has to be a network to support GPs in their work with the elderly.

This requires a level of co-ordination that involves the voluntary sector and crucially with local government playing a central role.

In this seminar we are going to look at the front line of the GP in combatting loneliness amongst the elderly, the co-ordination needed and the central role of local government in providing that.

We will also look at a number of case studies of good practice where different co-ordination models have been successful and also discuss what else needs to be done.

Participants of this workshop will gain:

  • An understanding of the causes of loneliness and social isolation
  • How we define loneliness and social isolation
  • The impact of loneliness on the individual
  • The impact of loneliness on GPs
  • The use of social prescribing and what that means
  • The need For a Coordinating Network
  • The role of the local authority in enabling and coordinating
  • Timely feedback and next steps

The programme*

The morning session will be focused on defining social isolation and its impact on older people. We will look at how the GP is in the front line of combating loneliness amongst the elderly. We will also look at the importance of creating a network to make social prescribing effective and the role of the local authority in coordinating such a network.

09:30 Registration & Refreshments

10:00 Introduction and overview: Francis Sealey, GlobalNet21

10:15 Loneliness & Social Isolation – The Problem in Perspective: Ingrid Koehler, LGiU

10:35 Questions to Speaker

10:50 The GP, Social Prescribing & Support Networks: Rachel Hughes, Social Action for Health

11:10 Broadening The Scope Of Social Prescription & Involving The Arts: Charlie Blowers London Playback Theatre

11:30 Questions to speakers

11:50 Open Session – Discussion Around Attendees Experience and Ideas

12:20 Lunch

The afternoon session will look a number of case studies of good practice and provide time for discussion about attendee’s own experiences and how they might apply what they have learnt in the above sessions to their own areas.

12:50 Overview of Afternoon: Francis Sealey, GlobalNet21

13:00 Speaker – Introduction to Case Studies

13:20 Case Study 1: Social Action for Health

13:40 Case Study 2: East Herts District Council

14:00 Case Study 3: Gateway Family Services

14:20 Questions to Speakers

14:40 Open Session or Working groups

15:20 Feedback from Groups

15:35 Feedback on Day

15:45 Close

* This programme was correct at the time of publication but may be altered to reflect speaker changes that are beyond our control.


Event run in association with GlobalNet
Event run in association with GlobalNet21



Speakers/Workshop facilitators:

Francis Sealey, GlobalNet21, a former producer at the BBC for The Open University, Francis has extensive experience of engaging with local communities and the use of social media.

Ingrid Koehler, LGiU Senior Policy Researcher, Ingrid’s interests are in governance and civic engagement and how these are reflected in local public services and the better collection and use of information in social care. Her recent publications include Key to Care: Report of the Burstow Commission on the future of the home care workforce, Care and Continuity: Contingency Planning for Provider Failure, and Achieving Outcomes Based Commissioning in Home Care.

Recent projects include developing a social care app and supporting open data and transparency in local elections.

Before joining LGiU, she worked for the LGA/IDeA, the Audit Commission, the Local Government Ombudsman, the London Borough of Brent and FutureGov. She has a BSc in Geology and an MA in Economics and Public Finance from the University of Tennessee.

Rachel Hughes is the Chief Executive Officer at Social Action for Health which is a community development charity, that works alongside marginalised local people and their communities towards justice, equality, better health and wellbeing. They currently operate in the London Boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest, Newham, Barking, Ealing, Camden, Greenwich and Redbridge with a contingent of full time, part time, sessional staff and volunteers.

Charlie Blowers is a Director of Moving Pieces Physical Theatre Company. She is also a performer, psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor. She has had twenty years of clinical experience working with young people and adults experiencing significant mental health challenges in a variety of therapeutic and educational settings. This has included project management, clinical supervision and staff training. She also works with London Playback Theatre that involves storytelling and improvised drama. She is currently writing a thesis on “art and social prescription.”


Who should attend?

This workshop provides a meeting point for leading stakeholder and community engagement leaders and professionals, sharing knowledge, tools and strategies to achieve success in creating mutually beneficial outcomes for both themselves, their stakeholders and the communities in which they operate. It will be of value to those working in local authorities, the voluntary sector, health and primary care.