There is evidence to suggest that peer-support groups can help to increase social connectedness among older people, thus improving their quality of life. Given that 3.6 million older people live alone in the UK (Age UK, 2018), and the associated health risks of these conditions, such as increased mortality and declining cognitive function, there is a need to further investigate the impact of peer-support groups on the health and wellbeing of older people. The Mental Health Foundation’s Standing Together project was set up to address this through facilitated peer support and activity-based groups.
This evaluation sought to understand whether the Standing Together (ST) peer-support groups, which took place between 2015 and 2017, impacted on outcomes related to: loneliness and social isolation; emotional wellbeing; and meaningful activity. It initially aimed to do this by comparing participants’ scores on these outcome areas at baseline and follow-up. A methodological shift during 2016, however, led to a greater focus on qualitative analysis. Focus groups with participants resulted in a richer, more nuanced understanding of the impact of the groups, which both complemented and enhanced the quantitative findings. The study also included a process evaluation to explore factors relating to the implementation of the groups, with a specific focus on assessing sustainability
The Standing Together Project aims to improve the emotional health and community connections of older people living in supported housing, as well as to reduce loneliness and isolation.
A-Z Topic: Mental health in later life
As we get older, changes in our lives such as retirement, bereavement or physical illness can affect our mental health.