The social isolation of those living in care homes is a real, yet hidden, need. During 2014 Friends for Life initiated consultations with the 37 care homes in Bedford Borough listed in the Bedfordshire and Luton Care Directory as making provision for older people (65+).
The results of these consultations revealed an average of 5 residents per home identifiable by home managers as ‘receiving few or no external visitors and at risk of social isolation’. For some homes, the number was as many as 12.
(Friends for Life are now in the process of updating these consultations to determine the need as it stands in 2017.)
Friends for Life work closely with the care home managers, social services and the wider community to identify residents in need of a befriender. At times, social services call upon Friends for Life’s assistance to find befrienders for residents who are foreign language speakers and Friends for Life are proud to have been able to meet all these requests for befrienders with additional languages to date.
It is often assumed that those living in a care home environment, alongside others, won’t be socially isolated but that is not the case. There are many reasons why someone living in a care home may be at risk of social isolation and there is real value in residents receiving visits from someone who doesn’t have to be in their company (i.e not a member of staff or another resident). By choosing to visits a resident, Friends for Life volunteer befrienders, enable so many residents to feel that they are listened to, respected, seen as individuals and cared about.
The need for more befrienders in high and Friends for Life are constantly seeking to train more volunteers to become befrienders. If you are interested in finding out more about becoming a Friends for Life befriender, please click here.