Boost for loneliness project in Leeds

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VULNERABLE elderly people at risk of being isolated when they return home from hospital will get extra support after a pioneering Leeds project is given £300,000 funding.

The Hospital to Home (H2H) project has already established a small pilot in the city but will now expand to support hundreds of people as they settle back into home life following illness or injury.

The funding is part of a £2m NHS England-led scheme, aimed at helping vulnerable people this winter.

The project, managed by Age UK Leeds in partnership with Leeds City Council, local health services, British Red Cross and other community and voluntary sector groups, will see a team of dedicated volunteers working to prevent older people returning to hospital once they have gone home and making sure they are not isolated while they recover.

Support could include shopping, cooking and prescription collections, home safety checks and cleaning.

Loneliness can be as detrimental to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and can contribute to a range of health problems, including dementia and high blood pressure.

In Yorkshire 91,300 older people living alone describe themselves as feeling lonely often or all of the time - and the number is growing, with more and more older people living alone each year.

Coun Adam Ogilvie, Leeds City Council’s executive member for adult social care, said: “Having a team of people dedicated to making that transition less stressful will make a massive difference and this money will be a huge boost to a project that is a genuine lifeline to older people in Leeds.”

The new funding means the project will be able to help an estimated 1,400 patients over the next six months, including during the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Heather O’Donnell, Chief Executive at Age UK Leeds said: “We hope the project will reduce pressures on local hospitals and very importantly improve the experience of older people after a stay in hospital or visit to A and E. “We will work with older people to support them maintain their independence, improve their wellbeing and give them greater choice and control over their lives.”

The service is now looking for volunteers. Contact Alexandra Boyle on 0113 389 3017.

A similar scheme is ran by Age UK in North Yorkshire. The React Home from Hospital service, which launched earlier this year, has already helped more than 200 people.

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