Older people are particularly vulnerable to social isolation or loneliness owing to loss of friends and family, mobility or income. Social isolation and loneliness impact upon individuals’ quality of life and wellbeing, adversely affecting health and increasing their use of health and social care services.

Primary prevention is generally designed for people with few social care needs or symptoms of illness. The focus therefore is on maintaining independence and good health and promoting wellbeing. The range of these ‘wellbeing’ interventions includes activities to reduce social isolation, practical help with tasks like shopping or gardening, universal healthy living advice, intergenerational activities and transport, and other ways of helping people get out and about.

Preventing Loneliness and Social Isolation: Interventions and Outcomes

This is one in a series Social Care Institute of Excellence research briefings about preventive care and support for adults. Prevention is broadly defined to include a wide range of services that:

• promote independence

• prevent or delay the deterioration of wellbeing resulting from ageing, illness or disability

• delay the need for more costly and intensive services.