Social Isolation - Social Connectedness
Introduction and definitions
In the Greater Richmond region, a project is underway to identify individuals and communities that may be at a higher risk of social isolation. This project integrates systems and networks of change through statewide case management system No Wrong Door and intervention models associated with projects under the Greater Richmond Age Wave.
Through a university and community partnership, a research team is creating a framework to identify global best practices. The team is determining which factors / indicators best measure social isolation, as well as developing key interventions and tools for an individual and a community determined as at “higher risk.”
In the meantime, we are sharing what we uncover about social connectedness with global communities and local service providers.
Definition of social isolation:
A state in which the individual experiences less social engagement with others than they would like, and they report that this interferes with their quality of life. (based on Nicholson)
Definition of social connectedness:
A state in which the individual experiences a satisfying number of social gatherings, close relationships and/or satisfaction with social contacts and reports that these experiences maintain their quality of life. (based on Toepoel)
Comparing individual-level data, collected via No Wrong Door, to a weighted predictor of social isolation will allow providers to disrupt the trajectory of social isolation and assist individuals and neighborhoods in achieving higher, and more meaningful, social engagement. Similar projects in the United Kingdom utilize slightly different models, but have overlapping concepts.
These maps developed in partnership with CURA through our initiative, and with funding from United Way, show a visual / descriptive analysis of the proximity of places of residence to services and amenities, and individuals who are not socially satisfied.
Modern to traditional tools can help service providers reduce social isolation across the region. Our research team is keeping their finger on the pulse of technology, innovative services and/or traditional models that combat and/or prevent isolation. These frameworks in our research support evidence-based practices and person-centered care. Our local efforts have so far involved building relationships with international innovation in aging organizations such as Aging2.0, and launching a local chapter in Richmond - the only chapter in Virginia.
Critical to this effort is integrating local to statewide systems of: No Wrong Door, Greater Richmond Age Wave, Senior Connections, VCU Department of Gerontology, United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg and numerous community partners that can utilize care networks and online tools in tandem to identify individuals and connect them to resources. The integration of these networks brings qualitative angles of personal narratives and person-centered practices to technology through innovation and more traditional models of care.
In mission with our Age Wave efforts, we are leveraging support to educate additional stakeholders and create momentum among the business, technology, startup, media, local government, student and senior care communities. This past summer, United Way hosted a widely attended Symposium on social Isolation bringing together experts and practitioners, including the keynote speaker: an author of AARP’s Framework for Isolation in Adults Over 50.The symposium elevated awareness of this topic in our region and was an initial step to explore research and best practices that could potentially be implemented locally by a network of providers. By culminating ideas, personal reflections and professional experiences, a greater understanding of this phenomena was gained.