GOOD housing can help protect older people in Northern Ireland from a ‘loneliness epidemic’, a local charity has said.
Abbeyfield Northern Ireland, which has houses at Merville Garden Village in Newtownabbey and Glassillan Grove in Greenisland, addressed the issue at the ‘Loneliness in old age – a foregone conclusion?’ conference in Belfast.
The event brought together more than 80 housing, health and social care professionals with responsibility for the elderly to discuss social isolation among local older people, its harmful effects, and how to tackle loneliness through improved care and services.
Abbeyfield presents an innovative housing model which provides comfortable, family-style accommodation for seven to 10 residents and enables older people to live independently but with the companionship of others, particularly as meals are eaten together.
Geraldine Gilpin, Chief Executive of Abbeyfield UK (NI), which has been providing housing support in Northern Ireland for over 50 years, said: “The issue of loneliness needs to be addressed. As a society we need to urgently look at ways in which we can encourage greater social interaction amongst the elderly.”