Monday 4th September saw our first learning network around ageing and wellbeing take place at Easton Community Centre, hosted in partnership with Bristol Older People’s Forum. Over 40 stakeholders from various organisations and with a range of insights into the topic explored how positive wellbeing and good mental health contribute to combating isolation and loneliness in older people.
Since the event the BAB team has been working hard to compile a report, drawn from the feedback at the event, which builds learning around the subject of ageing and wellbeing. So far the projects that BAB has funded in this area include things like running therapy groups for people in specific demographics such as carers and BME community members.
In addition to learning from the accumulated knowledge of the professionals and older people in the room, BAB was able showcase learning from five pilot projects. The pilots were run by delivery partners awarded a total of £75,000 to trial approaches to ageing and wellbeing designed to improve loneliness and isolation.
All of the pilots tried out different approaches to solution-focused brief interventions, designed to support older people whose emotional problems contribute to their loneliness.
Those who attended were asked to consider their personal experiences and use those to help create a vision for older people’s wellbeing in the city. In addition, they helped to identify existing services operating in these areas and discussed what they felt it would be most useful to see funded in future.
Key points which emerged from the event as potential barriers to engagement included:
Fear and confidence: Many groups discussed how fear of the unknown can be a barrier to engaging with services.
Transport and venues: Reaching services on foot or on public transport can be difficult and some venues are less accessible than they could be.
Language and awareness: Many attendees noted that using certain words could put older people off engaging and create fear of judgement or stigma.
Culture and language barriers: Considering culture and language when designing services could improve diversity and community cohesion.
Peer support: Building on existing links within communities could break down barriers to accessing harder to reach communities and populations and engage them with therapeutic groups and group therapy.
Collaboration and partnership: Attendees noted that using existing groups and relationships can be easier than recruiting new cohorts, and that collaboration and working together can make projects a more viable financial proposition.
Sustainability and continuity: Although networks, groups and counselling sessions are important provisions, it is also important to think about the future of such resources and avoid leaving participants cut off from services that they are reliant on for mental and emotional support.
Programme Director Adam Rees said: “The session was really useful for Bristol Ageing Better, and we hope that this report will be as useful for our partners as it was for us.
“What we found most interesting was the way that so many of the same themes cropped up time and time again; it proved to us that those are the issues we need to focus on going forward.”
You can read the full report on the event here.
The learning from the event also contributed to the decisions made around the Building Blocks for Wellbeing commissioning, released on October 1st 2017.
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