Douglas E & Bell D (2019) Older people, Social Isolation and Loneliness in Scotland Insights from the Healthy Ageing in Scotland (HAGIS) study. University of Stirling. Stirling. https://www.stir.ac.uk/research/public-policy-hub/policy-briefings/
Acknowledging the increasing recognition of social isolation and loneliness as major public health issues, the Scottish Government’s policy document A Connected Scotland (2018) sets out a strategic approach to tackling loneliness through building stronger social connections.
The strategy recognises that although that social isolation and loneliness can affect anyone, particular groups of people, including those living alone, those who have been bereaved, and those with socio-economic disadvantage, are among those at increased risk.
In seeking to build a Scotland where individuals and communities are more connected, the strategy identifies a series of priorities; empowering communities to build partnerships; promoting positive attitudes and tackling stigma; creating opportunities for people to connect; and supporting infrastructure that fosters connections.
This briefing, drawing on initial findings from the Healthy Ageing in Scotland (HAGIS) study (www.hagis.scot), presents headline statistics identified through the data, and demonstrates the significant potential of the project for informing policies in Scotland.
The Healthy Ageing in Scotland (HAGIS) study is the first comprehensive cohort study of older people in Scotland. In its pilot phase, the study interviewed over 1,000 people aged 50 or over in Scotland, with permission to link the survey data to administrative data including health (inpatients, day cases, outpatients, A&E and prescriptions), social care (social care census), tax and benefits. Collectively, the study’s data presents a rich source of information has the capacity to inform the design, implementation, and evaluation of interventions aimed at reducing instances of loneliness and isolation among older people in Scotland.