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Level of need in the population

Adults :: Social Isolation :: Level of need in the population

It is estimated nationally that across the present population aged 65 and over, that 5%–16% are lonely [1] and 12% feel socially isolated.[2] If this estimate was applied to Medway this would result in an estimate of 4,698 people over 65 years old being socially isolated and between 1,958 and 6,264 people being lonely. Population projections for Medway highlight that the rapid increase in the ageing population, the need to plan for this across all areas of health and social care and the importance of feeling safe within the home to reduce social isolation.

In order to identify the areas within Medway where social isolation is more likely to occur, one data source to consider is the census. A crude way to do this is to use the 2011 Census to calculate the proportion of the population living alone, which can be done separately for those under 65 and those aged 65 years and over. This is a reliable source of data but does not take account of people's circumstances in terms of health, mood, mobility and engagement with social networks.

Another way to identify areas within Medway where social isolation is more likely to occur is to use modelled estimates based on other data. MOSAIC Public Sector is a tool designed to help understand the characteristics and distribution of different types of people living within an area. It is produced by Experian Ltd and is one of a number of social-segmentation products available on the market today. The classification is built by drawing on a large database of Census and consumer demographic variables. Statistical analysis is used to identify clusters of associated variables to form distinct person types which have similar needs, attitudes or behaviours. Every household and residential postcode in the UK has been classified into a number of 'groups' which sub-divide into 'types'. The underlying premise is that similar people live in similar places, do similar things and have similar lifestyles, although it is important to take account that every individual has a unique set of circumstances and values and not all of the population within a given area may have similar characteristics.

The MOSAIC social segmentation system from October 2013 has been used as the basis of this report. Although updated in 2014, the older version has been used for two main reasons: 1. The background indicators are more relevant to social isolation and therefore provide a better set of proxy measures. 2. The number of households of each MOSAIC type living in Medway was not available at the time of writing the report.

The results are highlighted in figures 2 and 3.

Figure 1: Medway ward map
Figure 1: Medway ward map
Figure 2: Relative social isolation per household at lower super output area level of persons under 65.
Figure 2: Relative social isolation per household at lower super output area level of persons under 65.
Figure 3: Relative social isolation per household at lower super output area level of persons aged 65 and over.
Figure 3: Relative social isolation per household at lower super output area level of persons aged 65 and over.

Figure 3 shows the estimated proportion of households for people aged 65 years old or over in Medway who are estimated to be socially isolated according to the developed composite index. Areas estimated to have the highest proportion of households that contain socially isolated people aged 65 years old or older include parts of Chatham Central, Peninsula, Princes Park, Rainham South, River, Rochester East, Rochester South and Horsted, Rochester West, Strood Rural, Strood South, Twydall and Walderslade. The map shows the specific communities where the highest proportion of households estimated to be socially isolated are located.

Figure 4 shows the distribution of a measure of health and disability for Medway. The measure includes reduced quality of life that is a result of poor mental and physical health. The areas that have the highest deprivation of health and disability are similar to ones that high levels of overall deprivation and those estimated to have relatively high levels of social isolation per for people aged below 65 years old.

Figure 4: Health & Disability domain - IMD 2010 local quintiles for Medway using Lower Super Output Area (LSOA).
Figure 4: Health & Disability domain - IMD 2010 local quintiles for Medway using Lower Super Output Area (LSOA).

References

[1]   O'Luanaigh C, Lawlor B. Loneliness and the health of older people International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2008; (23): 1213-1221.
[2]   Greaves C, Farbus L. Effects of creative and social activity on the health and well-being of socially isolated older people: outcomes from a mulit-method observational study The Journal of the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health 2006; 126 (3): 136-142.