Case studies of our work

Tackling loneliness

We recognise that for older people, periods of transition can be a crucial time where they risk increasing frailty and isolation. The following case study illustrates our early preventative work, demonstrating the difference made by getting to someone at the right time and helping them access the right services.

During a meet and greet with sheltered housing tenants facilitated by one of our host Housing Associations, we met Mrs A. She had just moved into the area and was unfamiliar with her new surroundings. She was also suffering from worsening eyesight and had been registered blind.

Our practitioner carried out an initial one to one assessment with Mrs A and discovered that, at the heart of everything, was her loneliness. She told us that she loved company but felt restricted by her eyesight.  When discussing her mental health, she was able to articulate her low mood in a particularly poignant statement; “You put on the TV and you don’t see it, you’re just sitting waiting for a phone call”. Mrs A was tearful in these first meetings when she spoke about her loneliness and low mood.

As part of our approach, we ask older people to place themselves on a scale for up to 11 areas of their life. We then assign a numerical value to this scale. Mrs A scored particularly low in the areas of “Networks”, “Access to Information” and “Control and Choice in My Life”, scoring just 2.3 out of a possible 10 on average for each of these areas. She also placed herself in the midpoint for “Mental health and Wellbeing” scoring 5 out of 10.

A home befriending service would normally be ideal for a socially isolated older person with health concerns but, using our asset based approach we were able to recognise Mrs A’s resilience and desire to do more and with our strong network of third sector contacts in the city, we were able to find and link Mrs A into the OPALS project delivered by Visibility. This service provides one to one sight guided support to people over 55 experiencing sensory impairment to help build their confidence in getting our and participating in everyday activities. They also run social groups where people in similar situations can meet in a social environment.

Three months after becoming involved in our service, we carried out a review with Mrs A where we discussed the same aspects of her life as were covered in the initial assessment. After 8 weeks with her sight guide, Wilma, we saw positive movement in most aspects of her life. In particular, the three areas of “Networks”, “Control and Choice in My Life” and “Access to Information” saw particular improvement with a new average score of 8.7, a 64% increase. She also placed her “Mental Health & Wellbeing” score at 8, showing a 30% improvement. We now know that Mrs A is actively participating in various activities and social groups around her home area with a view to participating in more in the near future.

We’ve listed some quotes from Mrs A that were recorded during the review to illustrate the difference the service has made:

“I could not have got myself out of the dark place without visits from Wilma [OPELS sight guide]”

“My mind has improved immensely.”

“I used to be slower to seek help but now my mind is sorted out, I wouldn’t lie and wait now, I would use my tongue and seek help.”

“I think the world’s my oyster now. I feel there are options now.”

Coping with Anxiety

For some older people, not knowing where to go for help or how to ask for it can lead to increasing anxiety and as a result, by the time they reach a project like Community Connectors, they are already nearing crisis. This case study illustrates how our partnership with housing allows us unique access those most in need who otherwise might never become known to support services until they reach the point of requiring statutory support.

Mr B is a shared equity homeowner with one of our host housing organisations. His anxiety was apparent to housing staff as he struggled with the financial obligations of his agreement. When Mr B mentioned thoughts of suicide to a member of the factoring team, they immediately brought him to the attention of Community Connectors.

Through numerous sessions and phone calls, our team realised that anxiety was something which had plagued Mr B his whole life. He had suffered a breakdown last year for which his GP had prescribed anti-depressants. He had also been involved in the creative arts and had a desire to be involved again but felt too much pressure to produce work of a high standard.

As part of our approach, we ask older people to place themselves on a scale for up to 11 areas of their life. We then assign a numerical value to this scale. In the areas of “Mental Health and Wellbeing”, “Keeping Myself Well” and “Financial Wellbeing” he scored himself at 4. “Safe and Comfortable at Home” and “Access to Information” were particularly low at 2.

After three sessions with our practitioner, Mr B agreed to be referred to The South Glasgow Wellbeing Service to help with his anxiety. After three weeks working with them he contacted us of his own accord looking to be signposted to local art groups, feeling that he was ready to reengage with his creativity. At this point we also linked him into the EPIC 360 service to help with financial planning and budgeting.

At the 3 month review stage we asked Mr B to reflect on what he had achieved and rescore himself. In the area of “Mental Health and Wellbeing”, he had improved 20% to a 6, and in the area of “Keeping Myself Well”, he had improved 30% to a 7 showing that, although he is still on a continuous journey in regards to his mental health and anxiety, he feels better equipped to manage this and not let it affect his life in such a negative way.

His “Financial Wellbeing” score also increased 30% to a 7 as he now felt supported to budget better and be more aware of his financial capabilities. His score for “Safe and Comfortable at Home” increased 30% to a 5 with Mr B telling us that, although his housing situation is not fully resolved, he now feels mentally equipped to deal with it. The greatest increase came under “Access to Information” which moved from a 2 to an 8, representing a 60% improvement. He attributed this to his contact with Community Connectors and the feeling of having somewhere to turn when he needs support.

Mr B continues to attend a ‘Coping with Anxiety’ group every week and is now learning to control his anxiety. He told us that he wished he sought this help years ago. He is feeling more relaxed and confident and as a result has joined a local art group as well as a walking group which Community Connectors signposted him to. Mr B continues on a journey to achieve his further reaching outcomes but by getting to the right supports at the right time, he has built the confidence and resilience to achieve them by himself.