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2016 National Retired Members Conference
15 June 2016

Conference notes that there is growing evidence of elderly people suffering from loneliness. By deduction, this will include a large number of UNISON retired members.

Recent research has found:-

• 17% of older people are in contact with family, friends and neighbours less than once a week and 11% are in contact less than once a month.

• Over 51% of all people 75 and over, live alone.

• 3.9 million older people say television is their main means of company.

• 63% of adults aged 52 or over, who have been widowed and 51% of the same group who are separated or divorced, report feeling lonely often or some of the time.

• A higher percentage of women than men report feeling lonely often or some of the time.

• Impact of loss of meals on wheels to the recipients often meant that they were deprived of the only face they saw that day.

Conference further notes that loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience, as research shows an increase in health risk factors in persons experiencing loneliness.

Conference believes that UNISON, made up of members from a wide spectrum of social and health practitioners, is in an ideal position to offer solutions and take a lead in the problem of loneliness in older persons.

Conference therefore instructs the National Retired Members’ Committee to liaise with the National Executive Council to campaign for :-

1)Foundation services, such as understanding and support, to be put in place by Local Authorities.

2)Direct Interventions, such as psychological approaches, group based projects and one to one visits, are adopted by Local Authorities.

3)Gateway services, such as transport and technology are made available locally.

4)Liaison takes place with interested campaign groups, such as Age Concern.

5)A conference of the various practitioners within UNISON to discuss the problem of loneliness in older persons with an aim of putting forward best practice.

Conference further instructs the National Retired Members Committee to report back to the National Retired Members Conference 2017.