A MAJOR charity, local voluntary groups and community organisations in Worcestershire will be working from August to help 3,000 older people in the county overcome loneliness.
Worcestershire County Council and the county’s three Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) have awarded the country’s first payment-by-results programme – Social Impact Bond - to tackle this type of issue.
Councillor Marcus Hart, Cabinet Member for Health and Well Being, said: “Social isolation can be triggered at specific life changes as people become older such as retirement, death of a partner and loss of mobility. This can lead to a deterioration in emotional wellbeing and contribute to someone needing increased levels of health and social care support.
“This is the first Social Impact Bond in the country to tackle loneliness. It is an exciting opportunity for Worcestershire to contribute significantly to the national learning on the benefits of tackling social isolation.
"Social Impact Bonds attract investment from the private and socially motivated sector to tackle social problems in new and innovative ways."
The service will be delivered by Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire, together with voluntary and community organisations and will be fully operational next month.
Cllr Hart said it would focus on delivering concrete, measurable outcomes. “This style of commissioning - giving providers freedom and flexibility to design and shape a service - must meet the agreed outcomes.
“There will be a robust evaluation process which will focus on the effectiveness and cost benefits of the programme, with the council and clinical commissioning groups only paying for results.”
Philip Talbot, chief executive officer at Age UK Herefordshire & Worcestershire, said: "We are very excited to be part of this ground breaking work which addresses loneliness in our communities in a practical way.
“We are looking forward to working with an array of local partners to offer new solutions to help people combat their loneliness and re-build their connections with their local communities.
"This is a programme that everyone can participate in. Anyone can be referred to it, many groups can help deliver it, and we can work together to tackle loneliness in Worcestershire.”
He added that they were delighted to have secured a unique social investment funding package and looked forward to seeing the importance of investing in prevention and early intervention programmes.
If the programme is successful in reducing loneliness among older people, Worcestershire County Council will pay £540,000, while NHS Wyre Forest CCG, NHS South Worcestershire CCG and NHS Redditch & Bromsgrove CCG, will allocate a total of £480,000. The Cabinet Office’s Social Outcomes Fund and the Big Lottery’s Commissioning Better Outcomes Fund will provide a further £1 million in principle for the outcomes payments.