Responding to the launch of “Connected Communities: A strategy for tackling loneliness and social isolation and building stronger social connections’, Nesta Lloyd – Jones, Assistant Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation said:
“We welcome the launch of the first ever loneliness and social isolation strategy in Wales.
“Around one third of people in Wales report feeling lonely or socially isolated and this can have a significant impact on individuals health and wellbeing. Vital research by Age UK suggests that feelings of loneliness and social isolation can be as harmful to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, can increase the risk of stroke and heart problems as well as increase the risk of dementia.
“That’s why our members are focussing on early intervention and prevention to support people within their communities and reducing the need for people to be treated in our GP practices and in our hospitals.
“If we’re going to reduce the pressure on our NHS services, the NHS in Wales are going to need to address these challenges head on and work closely with our partners. Projects such as Ffrind i Mi in Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Community Connectors across Wales have had a tremendous impact on the people using the service.
“Our members are also working to develop more arts and health initiatives, with increasing evidence that being creative, whether through dance, song or painting, can prevent people feeling lonely or socially isolated. We now need to learn from that and develop projects at pace and scale which can benefit everyone in Wales.”