What is the impact of loneliness/social isolation on an older person’s quality of life?

Ms Jane Gale1

1Sir Charles Gairdner Osborne Park Health Care Group, ,

Background: Clients are referred to the Aged Care Assessment Team for assessment and management aimed at assisting them to either, continue living in the community, or facilitating a move into residential care. Assessment includes exploring the physical, medical, psychological and social domains. However, the social domain is frequently neglected in the assessment process. In particular, social isolation and loneliness are often not addressed. Consistent with trends across the world it has been identified that older persons are increasingly presenting as socially isolated and reporting to be lonely and this can be seen as an indicator for social work intervention.

Aims: Social Work within the team is interested in exploring whether there is a connection between loneliness and isolation and an older person’s quality of life. This can lead to the development of additional social work interventions.

Method: Over a two year period clients referred to the Aged Care Assessment Team have been assessed using a semi-structured interview which has included additional screening tools aimed at assessing loneliness and isolation against quality of life.

Results/Discussion: this is a work in progress with recommendations to be made following analysis of the data. Clients  were assessed using the Lubben Social Network Scale and Quality of Life Scale and the scores of these will be analysed to determine if there is a relationship between social isolation/family and friendship connections and a client’s perceived quality of life.


Biography:

Jane Gale graduated from Rhodes University – South Africa in 1981 with a Bachelor of Social Science (Social Work) (Honours). Her employment history includes working as a bereavement counsellor and palliative care social worker for Island Hospice and Bereavement Services for 15 years. Jane move to Perth, WA, in 2003 and commenced work at Sir Charles Gardner Hospital (SCGH) working in various capacities as a social worker, primarily in aged care. Jane has been the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) coordinator/ ACAT Education Officer and Social Work Manager within the social work department since 2007.

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