Category Archives: loneliness

Contact the Elderly: A Lifeline of Friendship

Contact the Elderly organise monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for people aged 75 and over, who live alone with little or no support from friends, family or statutory services. The afternoons are full of fun and laughter and make a real difference to the lives of their older guests.

Supported by a network of volunteers, the charity organises monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people, aged 75 and over, who live alone. Offering a regular and vital friendship link every month.

Each older person is collected from their home by a volunteer driver and taken to a volunteer host’s home for the afternoon. The group is warmly welcomed by a different host each month, but the drivers remain the same which means that over the months and years, acquaintances turn into friends and loneliness is replaced by companionship.

The tea parties are a real lifeline of friendship for our older guests who have little or no contact with family or friends. They bring people of all ages together, develop fulfilling friendships and support networks, and give everyone involved something to look forward to each month.

The group activity encourages:

  • Inter-generational links
  • Friendships to develop between older group members and volunteers

 

The groups:

  • Operate at weekends, when most community services for older people are not available. Moreover, Sunday has been highlighted to us by older guests as being a particularly lonely day of the week.
  • Are kept purposely small, and they meet in the welcoming environment of someone’s home.

Increasingly, research highlights the link between loneliness and ill-health in later life, including depression, certain heart conditions and even Alzheimer’s disease.

The Story Behind Contact the Elderly

In the early 1960’s, Trevor Lyttleton MBE, met an older lady who lived near him in Marylebone. She had no electricity in her house and was entirely alone. He discovered from the Welfare Department that she was one of many hundreds in the borough in a similar position.

Together with a few friends he decided to do something about it. They visited twelve older people whose names they had been given by the Marylebone Welfare Department and invited them to come to Hampton Court on the first Sunday in March 1965.

From this small start, Trevor decided to set up further groups and in September 1965 they were granted charitable status to enable them to raise funds to advertise for volunteers.

Trevor says: “I received a Christmas card from one of the old ladies simply saying ‘at last I have something to live for!’ and I think this more than anything else made me realise how much more we could do and so we decided to set up other groups.”

This small act of kindness grew into what is today a national charity with groups in every region of England, as well as Wales and Scotland. Trevor is still involved as the charity’s Chairman, and the group he started in 1965 is still going strong.

If you would like to learn more about Contact the Elderly, including how to become a volunteer or a guest, click here.

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Beat the Blues

There are many negative consequences of loneliness and isolation and one of these can be deterioration in our mental health and mental processes. A lack of social interaction and activity, and not taking an interest in our diet, can mean a decline in mood and mental wellness. Sometimes it can be the things we think will pick us up, which actually bring us down!

Foods which negatively affect mood and can increase feelings of anxiety include sugar, caffeine, alcohol and chocolate, while drinking water, eating vegetables, fruit and oil-rich fish can reduce stressful feelings and increase positive mood. I get it, we enjoy some of the things that aren’t good for us, but for how long? Alcohol is a depressant and the morning after we feel it, chocolate is great for the first hit, but how often do you wish you hadn’t finished the whole bar, layer, box? Getting more of the good stuff in your diet makes you feel good.

In addition to eating the right things, there is more and more research showing how exercise improves mental health and cognition. Exercise makes you feel better; you get a sense of achievement over getting started and proving you have the will power. And for most people exercise releases some nice helpful hormones which make you happy. It also increases blood flow to the brain, helping mental functioning. With some types of exercise you can also get to meet others and build relationships. Physical exercise has been found to ease depression, slow age-related memory loss and prevent Parkinson-like symptoms.

Anyone can do some form of exercise and feel the benefits. Actor Christopher Reeve made sure he exercised whenever he could even though he was a paraplegic. Twelve years after his fight with Chris Eubank resulting in six brain operations, boxer Michael Watson completed the London Marathon in 6 days, 2 hours, 27 minutes and 17 seconds. No one thought he would walk, write or talk again but he defied those expectations.

You don’t need to run a marathon to feel the benefits – there are plenty of at home, chair activities to get started: http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/fitness/Pages/sitting-exercises-for-older-people.aspx 

 

Promising Approaches to Reducing Loneliness and Isolation in Later Life

By on 02 02, 2015 in communityloneliness

On Monday 26th January, the Campaign to End Loneliness launched their brand new guide on what works to address loneliness in older age.

‘Loneliness is a bigger problem than simply an emotional experience.  Research shows that loneliness and social isolation are harmful to our health: lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity’. Find out more about loneliness here.

Developed by the Campaign to End Loneliness and Age UK, Promising Approaches to Reducing Loneliness and Isolation in Later Life draws on experience, expertise and evidence to set out a new framework for understanding how to tackle loneliness and isolation.

The Campaign to End Loneliness and Age UK have produced a report that offers practical answers to what works in tackling loneliness. In the report, the Campaign to End Loneliness argue that leaders in health and social care must recognise the individual’s experience of loneliness and should not seek a ‘one size fits all solution’.

They set out a new framework for understanding how to tackle this multi-faceted problem, presenting a range of projects and examples from around the country.

This guide can help ‘commissioners, funders and deliverers of services that support older people to identify the areas of need in your communities, and support you as service providers, in the delivery of more effective loneliness interventions’. To find out more, and see how you can involved in this campaign, visit the Campaign to End Loneliness website here.

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Acts of Kindness

The festive period is a time when we are encouraged to think about those near to us who may need a little extra support, those who struggle to heat their homes, those who do not see anyone, those who struggle to feed themselves and their family. It is put on our hearts to help those less fortunate with Act of Kindness.

This got me to thinking about acts of kindness that could we could practise throughout the year. With 2015 just around the corner, people will be setting New Year’s resolutions to get fit, lose weight, eat less, spend less, give more…. can we perhaps include in these resolutions some specific acts of kindness for those in the community who are lonely and isolated? This sounds daunting, and with our lives already so busy, can we really spare the time and effort?

Yes, we can.  It can be an easy and fulfilling act if we put our minds to it. It can be as simple as donating to charity those clothes we never wear, offering to get some shopping for a neighbour when we do our own weekly shop, or picking up a little something extra for the local food bank – even easier now if you can get it delivered. What about picking up an extra newspaper when we go to the newsagent, mowing an older person’s lawn when we have the mower out anyway, taking someone’s dog for a walk or doing a jigsaw with an elderly housebound person. Let’s surprise ourselves and others with some acts of kindness in 2015.

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The Royal Voluntary Service: You’re invited for Christmas

Community ChristmasNo older person should spend Christmas Day alone if they don’t want to and that’s why this year The Royal Voluntary Service has joined forces with Community Christmas to help older people who’d otherwise be on their own to find a local event where they can share a celebration.

Community Christmas is a one-stop-shop for older people, their families, friends and carers to search for options to join in on Christmas Day close to home.

Do you or someone you know not have any plans for Christmas Day?

To find a warm Christmas welcome for yourself or a friend, neighbour or loved one, go to communitychristmas.org.uk or call 0844 4430662.

Just search by town or postcode for events and activities happening up and down the country for Christmas 2014 that have their doors open and welcome older people on Christmas Day. Things to do include social events at local community centres, social clubs and pubs offering a hearty Christmas Day lunch and many can even help you get there by providing transport.

Click here to see The Royal Voluntary Service Website

Do you want to share your Christmas this year?

Do you have an event, activity or able to offer support to older people on Christmas Day? Visit the Community Christmas website to register your details and help to make Christmas happier for an older person near you.

The Importance of a Cuppa

The idea of Afternoon Tea seems more popular than ever. There is traditional afternoon tea, gluten free afternoon tea, savoury afternoon tea, champagne afternoon tea or if you prefer, a simple cream tea. The common thread is a nice cup of tea to complete the experience.

Tea consumption increased dramatically during the early nineteenth century and it is around this time that Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford is said to have complained of “having that sinking feeling” during the late afternoon. At the time it was usual for people to take only two main meals a day, breakfast, and dinner at around 8 o’clock in the evening. The solution for the Duchess was a pot a tea and a light snack, taken privately in her boudoir during the afternoon.

The only difference now is that a cup of tea has come to be seen as a very good excuse to meet up and have a natter, put the world to rights, console and commiserate over.  Not feeling too well? I’ll just put the kettle on. Daughter gone off to university? Come round and have a cuppa – I might even have some cakes in the cupboard……

For those who feel lonely, or have mobility restrictions, organisations both locally and nationally are making sure that arrangements are in place so no one has to miss out. One of these is Contact the elderly. They organise regular Sunday afternoon tea parties for people over 75, who live with little or no social support.

That cup of tea is equally important to keep us going throughout the day. The Royal Voluntary Service highlights that the humble tea round is a tradition that is slowly becoming extinct in today’s fast-paced busy workplace. 2.5 million workers in Great Britain say they don’t have the time to put the kettle on for their colleagues. We jumped on board their campaign and got the boss to make the tea!

Tea

Useful Websites

By on 05 12, 2014 in elderlyloneliness

In March we posted some useful links to organisations working towards reducing and ending loneliness as well as working towards the rights of older people. Here are some others which you may find useful:

http://www.thesilverline.org.uk: The Silver line is a free, 24 hour, confidential helpline for older people. The helpline is open every day and night of the year to offer information, friendship and advice, link callers to local groups and services, offer regular befriending calls and protect and support callers suffering abuse and neglect.  The website gives you information on the service and ways to get involved.

http://www.alzheimers.org.uk: Alzheimer’s Society is a membership organisation, which works to improve the quality of life of people affected by dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Their local services include day care and home care for people with dementia, as well as support and befriending services to help partners and families cope with the demands of caring.

http://www.helpage.org/tags/uk: HelpAge International helps older people worldwide claim their rights, challenge discrimination and overcome poverty, so that they can lead dignified, secure, active and healthy lives.

http://www.whentheygetolder.co.uk: When They Get Older is an independent site for anyone with ageing and elderly family and friends, offering advice, guides and information.

http://www.mind.org.uk: Mind provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.

http://www.independentage.org: Independent Age is a charity that is an established voice for older people. They address three types of poverty older people can be subject to; Financial, Social and Information through advice, befriending and campaigning.

http://www.redcross.org.uk: British Red Cross are a volunteer-led humanitarian organisation that helps people in crisis. This includes providing support at home, transport, mobility aids and services for people with disabilities.

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The benefits of owning a pet

Owning a pet can be a great way to reduce loneliness and increase wellbeing. Pets make you feel loved and provide friendship. They can not only improve a person’s quality of life, but improve their health too. They have been shown to reduce the feelings of isolation and anxiety, and can lead to increased socialisation. If you have a dog, there is also the increase in activity of course.

When you walk your dog, people stop to talk to you and to your companion, you meet other dog owners, you get outside more and you generally feel better – even owning a goldfish or a hamster can be beneficial. Having a pet means that you have something to talk to, to share your thoughts and decisions with, something to come home to and to make you feel needed, appreciated and depended upon. For some people their pet is their sense of purpose and pride.

Pets are used in various forms of therapy, including helping people suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to re-enter society. There is no need to explain to your pet what you’ve been through and there is no judgment of you, simply acceptance and company. Pets in residential homes have been shown to improve both patient and staff morale, and they can also provide a great source of entertainment and distraction. The national charity Pets As Therapy has volunteers who provide therapeutic visits (mainly with dogs, but there are a few cats too) to hospitals, hospices, care homes, nursing homes and special needs schools.  These visits bring comfort and companionship to thousands of people, reduce their feelings of isolation and speed up their recovery from illness.

Owning a pet can decrease depression, stress and anxiety and have medical benefits which include lowering blood pressure, improving your immunity to disease and even decreasing your risk of heart attack and stroke. There are many benefits of owning a pet, whatever the make or model you choose.

Do remember though, that sometimes they may eat your shoes!

dogs like to eat shoes

Links to useful websites

By on 03 10, 2014 in loneliness

There is some amazing work going on to reduce and end loneliness. Here are some websites that you may find useful. 

www.campaigntoendloneliness.org: The Campaign to End Loneliness is a network of national, regional and local organisations and people working together through community action, good practice, research and policy to create the right conditions to reduce loneliness in later life.   

www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk: Royal Voluntary Service wants to help create a society where everyone feels valued and involved whatever their age. They have over 40,000 volunteers who help older people stay active, independent and able to continue to contribute to society. They do this by providing practical and emotional help where and when it’s needed.  

www.ageuk.org.uk: Age UK believe in a world where everyone can love later life and is here to inspire, enable and support older people to help people make the most of later life.  

www.jrf.org.uk: The Joseph Rowntree Foundation wants lasting change for people and places in poverty, communities where everyone can thrive and a more equal society. Now and for future generations. 

www.mygeingparent.com: A website aimed at helping you to help your  elderly parent, older friend or relative. Packed full of information, it is a proactive site, which helps you find the answers to all the questions you might have.  

www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk: National charity Contact the Elderly organises free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people aged 75 and over, who live alone. Contact the Elderly recruits volunteer drivers, hosts and group coordinators to arrange the teas.   

www.generationboomer.co.uk: with a range of products, tips, news and advice all aimed at helping you stay independent, productive and confident you can cope with whatever life throws at you.  

 www.silversunday.org.uk : Held on the first Sunday of October, Silver Sunday is a celebration of older residents and their contribution to communities. Through a variety of free activities we are offering people over 65 a chance to keep active in body and spirit, try new things, meet their neighbours and, ultimately, overcome loneliness. 208 days to go! 

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Tackling Loneliness

In the first project of its kind in the UK, Visbuzz is working with Halton Clinical Commissioning Group and Halton Borough Council to install Visbuzz units in the homes of some of the area’s most isolated and vulnerable residents. The project also involves training volunteers from the CCG, local authority and local community groups such as The British Red Cross and Wellbeing Enterprises in how to use Visbuzz effectively in the users’ homes.

This is an amazing opportunity to influence positively the lives of isolated and lonely individuals. In previous posts I have discussed the importance of social interaction, meaningful contact and face to face communication and this project brings together all of these aspects, with a view to collecting and collating evidence to further support work in this field.

Loneliness is not simply a matter of connecting with people, it is about connecting with the people that matter.

For those of you who are new to Visbuzz, our vision is a world in which loneliness does not exist. Visbuzz connects you face to face easily and simply with those who are important to you; just by touching their picture. We have used the most up to date technology, making Visbuzz as simple to use as possible. Visbuzz allows you to connect to your loved ones through a computer tablet with one touch, reducing loneliness and increasing wellbeing.

Not only can Visbuzz help those who are isolated, vulnerable and lonely, but Visbuzz can also give their carers, family and friends, peace of mind and reduce their worry levels.

Loneliness can affect all of us at one time or another, and is not just someone else’s problem. Together, we can go further towards a world in which loneliness does not exist.

Is loneliness affecting you or someone you love? What ways have you found to combat loneliness? Let us know in the comments section at the bottom of this page.   

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Steve writes for myageingparent.com

Steve has written an article for www.myageingparent.com where he discusses the creation and benefits of Visbuzz. See the article below, and at http://www.myageingparent.com/keep-touch-using-technology/

Keep in touch using technology with Visbuzz.

  • Many of us worry about older relatives and ageing parents, especially if we live far from them and can’t easily pop in for a cup of tea or a quick chat. I felt just this way about my mum. I also felt guilty because I knew my mum’s loneliness was causing health problems, but I couldn’t see how things could change.Visbuzz 4
  • Loneliness has a real impact, not only on those concerned about ageing parents, but also the organisations and people who provide care and services to them. I am learning what many health professionals already accept; loneliness often leads to depression and physical illness, particularly in older people who may be less able to sustain their mental or physical wellbeing. If they are frail or have other conditions, it makes it harder for them to socialise, or be active
  • Some estimates suggest that 30% of GP call-outs are to elderly people, whose real need is for company. They need not live in a remote location; loneliness can be just as acute in our inner cities, where an older person may not know the people across the landing or next door
  • Since my Dad died a few years ago, my mum had become less mobile, less interested in travelling, or doing anything which interrupted her usual routine. Our family is spread around the country and, although we all did our best, no one could be with her all of the time. She is fiercely independent, wanting to stay in her own home, but the combination of isolation from her family and living alone meant she became lonely and her emotional and mental health began to suffer
  • Faced with the prospect of years of trying to balance the needs of my family, my business and my independent mother, I tried many ways to help her and also to reduce my guilt at not being able to be with her all the time. Carers and ccommunity workers cater for her physical needs, but it was her psychological and emotional needs I wanted to provide for. She wanted to be included and connected to those who mattered most to her. But how?
  • I noticed that regular visits from family resulted in great peaks of happiness, but then, once the family departed, deep troughs of unhappiness and depression. In reality, no visits at all may have been an appropriate way to keep her health stable. But we could not contemplate not seeing our mum, so we continued to visit regularly and my mum’s health deteriorated. She fell more often and her general health was wors,e which meant more hospital visits. She was often short tempered, especially with my brother, whom she saw most often, because she felt unwell much of the time. She became increasingly cantankerous . As this was happening, so my sense of guilt and worry deepened.  My two siblings felt the same. How could we make our mum happy AND keep her emotional and mental health stable?
  • It was obvious that finding a way to reduce her isolation would improve her general health, so I looked at several possibilities. These included Skype and Facetime. However, signing on to both of these is complex for people who are not used to working with computers and they were difficult for my mum to use. She found it hard to remember the processes to follow and was easily confused and frustrated
  • There was another problem too. My mum has arthritis in her hands and so using a keyboard, mouse or electronic keypad is difficult for her. That meant that none of the existing phone or PC programmes for video calls really met her needs. I tried setting up Skype on a computer in her home, which I controlled remotely. However, she disliked this arrangement, as she felt it interfered with her independence, as she had no control over accepting the video call or not. That was when I realised that it was up to me to find a solution as part of the package of support that was already available to her
  • The solution had to increase contact with my mum without taking away her independence. Also, it had to make sense for the whole family. I invented a way that my siblings and I could connect to my mum using a tablet computer. For my mum, using it is as simple as touching the screen. It has really enhanced my mum’s life, increasing her happiness and reducing her susceptibility to illness and bouts of depression
  • For my mum, the tablet computer is just like a picture frame, a part of the furniture and not a scary piece of technology
  • Research suggests that it takes 3 to 4 weeks to create a new habit, so I made sure I went to see my mum regularly for the first month, and we used the device together to speak to my sister and brother. This way she became accustomed to using the one touch device (I call it Visbuzz) and I was always there to help if she needed me
  • She soon became confident with Visbuzz. She could see that she controlled the technology, not the other way round, and that there was nothing to be worried about.  During this time my mum commented that she was having a little trouble with the arthritis in her hands and wasn’t always able to touch the screen with accuracy or firmly enough to use it comfortably, so I introduced a stylus to make the touch screen as accessible as possible
  • Now we can see her daily, we can include her in family gatherings, she can join us at mealtimes without travelling and without having any complex technology to worry about
  • Sometimes the things we need to solve problems are not out there. If they exist at all, they might not be available in our area, for example, voluntary organisations offering befriending services are not nationwide and statutory services may recognise the problems associated with loneliness, but simply don’t have the capacity to offer older people the company and support they want
  • So it’s up to us to think of ways around challenges like this. I have looked at how to address the challenges of modern living through the technology we now have. If you think of something that can help your ageing parent, the likelihood is it will help others as well, so don’t be afraid to come up with your own solutions
  • Many people are in the same situation with their parents as my siblings and me. We would love to hear about your experience. so please share them with us on our forum

Steve is the founder of Visbuzz. He has been a company CEO/MD for over 20 years and is an experienced coach and facilitator.  He works with senior team members in growing businesses to help them become better leaders making better decisions and achieving better results. Steve supports a number of charitable organisations and is also actively working towards ending loneliness If you’d like to know more about Visbuzz, either visit www.visbuzz.com, or call us on 03337 729637

Solutions to Loneliness

Last week, the Cardiff Blues Rugby Team donated 30 tickets to the Royal Voluntary Service (http://www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/), for volunteers and older people to go to the game. For lonely people, it is not, as the Royal Voluntary Service highlighted, solutions to loneliness are not always about a cup of tea.

For some people, the solution to loneliness is tea and cake, just look at the work by Contact the Elderly (http://www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk/), but for others this isn’t going to cut it. The solution needs to fit the individual otherwise the help being offered can lead to increasing loneliness rather than eradicating it.

In west London, they have numerous solutions to end loneliness, including Men’s Sheds (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7T8RTis6JGI) where it is easy to build relationships as those involved get to know each other through the DIY projects and work they do together. Age UK Milton Keynes (http://www.ageuk.org.uk/miltonkeynes/) offer coach trips for those over 55, and local churches can be found to offer a range of community services from mother and baby clubs to creative threads (knitting & needle work clubs).

There is also always the opportunity to learn new skills. Age UK highlight that there are now more than 600,000 learners over 60 in England alone. There are local computer clubs, evening courses, and courses available on line or through the internet. Future Learn (https://www.futurelearn.com/) offer a range of on-line courses from a range of universities free of charge. Sometimes, the support of a befriender, volunteer or family member may be required initially but people are never too old to learn!

The key to solving loneliness is building up meaningful relationships. As Kim Culbertson puts it: ‘People think being alone makes you lonely, but I don’t think that’s true. Being surrounded by the wrong people is the loneliest thing in the world’.

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Loneliness

Loneliness is being talked about more and more within the media, among policy makers and by society as a whole. Has there been an increase in loneliness, or are we understanding and talking about the concept more? Maybe it’s a little of both.

Loneliness can affect the new mother who has no adult contact, the isolated grandmother whose last conversation was 4 days ago, the recently widowed husband who isn’t sure what routine means anymore, or the working professional who goes home to an empty house. No one is immune. Some people value their solitude, but when does solitude turn to loneliness? Families used to live in the same house, same street – at most a couple of streets away in the same village. Now we have cousins in Australia, sons and daughters in Scotland, brothers and sisters in America.

Popping round seems to no longer be an option, and individuals are turning to other avenues of support and contact where family once was. Even if you do have people around you, unless you feel in control and view these contacts as meaningful, you can still be lonely. Who wants to be talked at, made to feel inadequate or made to participate with an activity just because someone thinks it’s what you should do, what you need.

The key lies with being able to connect with those you want to, when you want to, how you want to. A coffee with Frank, a game of cards with Joyce, a film with Jenny, a chat with Aunty Catherine….

There are some fantastic options out there to reduce loneliness, with businesses, charities and communities becoming more focused on making sure the hard to reach, isolated and lonely are reached, and in ways that make them want to engage.

What would you like in place to make you less lonely? What ideas do you have to help others?

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Our Big Society

 In 2010, the Government promoted the Big Society as a way of putting power in people’s hands. The launch of The Big Society was to encourage and enable people to play a more active role in society and come together to improve their own lives and the lives of others.   Irrespective of political stance, the idea of supporting people who care about their community and want to get involved in improving the community around them cannot be a bad thing and comes in many guises.  

Ultimately, people care for, and want to help, other people. There are already a range of community based services, including those working towards reducing loneliness and increasing inclusion within society, and within these, volunteers play a key part. Volunteers have always been integral to delivering services on the ground. They are now taking a more central role within community services, with some organisations being made up of between as many as 50% and 100% volunteers. Through volunteering, people can gain a sense of civic responsibility, get the chance to realise and develop their skills and at the same time see the difference they make within their own community. 

As Lynne Berry, chair of the Commission on the Voluntary Sector and Ageing says, ‘Charities and voluntary organisations are in the business of hope, of changing the world for the better. They are also committed to challenging injustice and righting wrongs; they are about creating an inspiring future’. 

Without volunteers giving their time, energy, and resources, the Big Society would not be able to exist, and community care would look like a very different landscape.  

So, thank you to the volunteers out there, keep going. 

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Visbuzz moves forward

We moved further forward with our vision of a world in which loneliness doesn’t exist on Monday, when we spent a fantastic day with some of our Visbuzz Champions in Halton. The day was focussed on ensuring that the best possible service is delivered to the lonely and isolated in the community, enabling them to connect with those that matter most in their lives. At the touch of a picture, they can chat with their loved ones face to face and so communicate more frequently with ease.

We demonstrated that with one touch, Visbuzz can make individuals feel included and connected – a simple way to help end loneliness.

The testimonials from the day were heart-warming and encouraging, with Visbuzz being recognised as a vital tool to increase inclusion for the lonely, vulnerable and distressed in our communities. Watch this space!

Bringing healthcare home

Mobile health (mhealth) is the key word meaning to deliver healthcare through mobile communication devices. Using personal wireless technology, medical care and information can be brought to the home of the patient. Visbuzz has created a platform that turns a smart device into a communication portal to connect you with those who matter most. It allows friends, family, doctors and therapists to engage with those who find it difficult to make frequent journeys.

A big challenge for carers is making high-quality healthcare accessible and available to everyone. With an ageing population the key is to put the care back in the hands of the patient through preventative measures. Visbuzz gives patients the control and power to connect to those they need and want to, without the feeling of intrusion. With extra functionalities of leaving “text messages,” patients can schedule meetings with family members with a simple touch screen method. Giving friends and family of patients the key to unlocking the difficulties in staying in touch with relatives that live far away could be the answer to improving wellbeing, healthcare and life satisfaction.

The economic driver in using Visbuzz is the reduction of hospital visits, bed space and doctors time as well as long journeys from family and friends to stay in contact. Using the portable device to connect and stay connected to those who are most important will reduce these factors and improve the lives of patients and their families.

Get in contact today to find out more about how Visbuzz can change your relationship with your family today. Connect to those who are most important to you.

How can mHealth actually help me?

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“mHealth” is a key word that has been flying around cyber space for some time now with large corporations outlining how it will increase profits and decrease government expenditures, but what I really want to know is how can it benefit me and my family?

Indeed, the Federal Communications Commission’s mHealth Task Force has found that wireless and remote access to health records and electronic prescriptions alone could make $29 billion over the next decade. Undoubtably, on an enormous scale, mHealth is going to help healthcare systems worldwide improve the service to millions of people, but what about in my home and for my loved ones? What difference can be made?

Visbuzz has created a unique device that personalises communication that can be applied to improving healthcare. The mobile software system connects the primary user to the people that matter most to the, including, perhaps, their doctor. At her bedside the primary user has her complete support system; friends, family, doctor, nurse and therapist, all of whom can provide care and love any time of the day. This innovative method of communications is a well-needed replacement to the current and traditional care-home environment. Visbuzz identified unmet needs in the market where isolated individuals needed easy access to their loved ones without the difficulties of using complex technology. Results have been positive from the pilot studies that healthcare organisations across the UK are embracing the solution, as well as individuals with personal needs of their own.

Personalised mHealth looks at each person in their own right with their needs as the foremost important factor in their care. Visbuzz creates an environment where the primary user can connect to those who matter the most, in a place they are comfortable and without the stressors of technology as a burden. These traits have the potential for doctors to implement continuous monitoring, lending insights to lifestyle habits and dynamic physiological changes to improve the health of the primary user. Of course Visbuzz is not just a medical advantage with the use of doctors, research continually finds that recovery is much more likely when the patient is happy and connected to friends and family.

Get back in touch with your loved ones today, talk to Visbuzz.

mHealth: a new vision for healthcare

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Whilst new reports say UK economic growth revised up to 0.7%, the long road to recovery still remains a critical challenge. One area where there is certain room for improvement in within the healthcare market. The 2013/2014 budget for healthcare is £95 billion, and increasing each year, calculating 18% of the total government spending. It is therefore imperative that we look at ways in which we can cut healthcare costs. We are in a spiral of healthcare costs as expectations of patient’s are high and financial resources are tight. However there is help at hand in the form of mobile applications and technology.

The modest costs of implementing mHealth applications could significantly lower healthcare costs across the UK and the world, resulting in happier healthier patients and more financial leeway to look at preventative medicine. Currently only a small amount of government funding has been allocated to mHealth and social health where patients can access healthcare advice and information from their phone and tablets. Being connected to ones doctor using an electronic device and reducing the need for face to face interaction for simple check ups or questions will inevitably reduce the time and costs for the patient and also for the healthcare organisation. A report by The Boston Consulting Group and Telenor Group found that costs relating to data collection in healthcare organisations could be reduced by 24% when using mHealth. They found that mobile devices could be used for remote diagnosis, speeding up of processes, avoiding duplication and saving between 20-30% in administrative fees.

However, there are the cynics about introducing mHealth as a primary method of communication between a patient and their doctor. Willa Field, Chair of the HIMSS Board of Directors, pointed out that elderly people are unlikely to adopt new technology without incentive and there are privacy and security concerns that go on alongside. It is important to recognise these limitations and find a way that will improve the service for all users.

Visbuzz is a mobile technology device built onto a portable tablet with a primary aim to connect people with those who matter most to them. It leaps over the hurdle of questions about incentives, understanding technology, costs and security through being built for one purpose only: to connect to your loved ones. Steve McNulty originally built Visbuzz to speak to his mother on a more regular basis without the complexities of explaining technology and having a high premium price to go with. This unique combination of factors that Visbuzz has to offer will largely contribute to reducing healthcare costs, improving communication and overall wellbeing of the primary user.

Please get in contact today to find out more about Visbuzz and how it can help you and your loved ones.

The Impact of Technology on Healthcare

Mobile communications and multimedia technology are playing significant roles in giving patients responsibility to their own healthcare, which in turn improves adherence to prescribed medications. With regards to mHealth and adherence trends, Aunia Grogan, CEO of Atlantis Healthcare said, “Technology is at the heart of what we do,” in developing treatment adherence. “The strategic use of technology is critical to effectively deliver mass personalisation, ensuring the right patient receives the right message at the right time, in the right way.”

Research has found that non-adherence is an individualised belief of the patient about their illness and their prescribed medications. The first step in changing the behaviour of the patient is to initially reframe the beliefs. Grogan says, “mHealth is increasingly important to channel and deliver relevant and meaningful interventions that can drive long-term behaviour change.” However, she emphasised that for the treatment to be successful, the patient needs to be actively engaged with his or her own recovery. For many patients it can be difficult to access their doctor on a regular basis, increasing the likelihood of their noncompliance due to not being properly informed about their medications. It is important that we use the technological devices we have available for the benefit of patients who have difficulty in accessing healthcare.

A new technological device available on the market now is Visbuzz, a game changer within the communications space. Visbuzz is a tablet application that gives people the opportunity to connect with those who matter most to them without the fuss of technology. Whilst multimedia technology is the driving force behind Visbuzz, the primary user does not need to be competent in technology at all. In fact, to call someone it is as easy as pressing the contacts picture on the screen. This ties in extremely well this improving adherence in those who are reliant upon medication but find it difficult to travel to healthcare organisations. Using Visbuzz, patients can communicate with their doctors to manage their healthcare program and improve their happiness and wellbeing.

To make the difference for one of your family members, contact Visbuzz to understand more about how easy it can be for them to connect to those who matter most.

The Healthcare Revolution – Will you ride the wave?

The healthcare system is undergoing a serious and well needed re-vamp and update using digital and mobile technology. Will you ride the wave of the revolution?

When emails came to our attention in around 1993 I was quick to adopt the new technology, although somewhat alien I could see the potential long-term usage of connecting to people through electronic letters rather than picking up the phone for a quick question. Now, two decades on, there are over 3 billion email accounts and it has quickly become one of the most efficient methods of communication. In 2013 we are continually developing new technological applications to help our everyday lives, and the new big area of development is healthcare. Adopting this new and seemingly alien technology may seem difficult now, but those who do will reap the rewards in the years to come, healthcare professionals and patients alike.

Traditional healthcare organisations use pen and paper to record notes, long waiting lists for simple tests and home visits for check ups. The medical staff are overworked and underpaid, tired and angry at the governments, and are looking at new innovative ways to improve patient care. Leading healthcare organisations are guiding the sector into the future of care through technology and transformation to create a more effective, efficient and reliable healthcare service.

mHealth, as defined by Professor Istepanian as the use of “emerging mobile communications and network technologies for healthcare”, is a common word found amongst healthcare blogs and magazines. People are looking up and smelling the roses about the new advances in healthcare to see how it can benefit themselves and those they love, but it can be difficult to choose out of the hundreds available.

Visbuzz can provide you with a unique approach to personalised care that meets the needs of you and those who are most important. Visbuzz is a simple interface device that brings communication to life through video calling tailored to those that are technologically hesitant. I know the feeling of heavy guilt when I can’t pick up the call from my Mum when I am busy through the day. I know there has to be a balance between your own life and those you care about. Giving freedom and simultaneous control to her through scheduled calling and messaging applications takes away the chance of interruptions in my busy day but also gives her the promise of talking soon.

Take advantage of the hundreds of new devices and technological developments in healthcare and consider using Visbuzz to connect with those who matter most.

The story of Visbuzz


My story begins, as many do, with a vision for a better place for those I love.

The heat of the midday sun shone through the window, burning me crimson as the traffic slowly ploughed on. The radio blared out some old rock hits from the 70’s intermitted between reports of a roadblock on the motorway. I lost count of how many hours I had been sitting there and I daren’t think about the journey home. How I envied those on the other side of the road, blistering along with their roofs down and hair blowing. ‘Perhaps I’ll have next weekend off’ I ruminated. But even as the thought entered my mind, guilt crept over my shoulder and sat heavily in my chest for the remainder of the crawling journey.

Once I had arrived at the house I grew up in, my Mum could see the stress in my face, my body language. Immediately she apologised and said that I shouldn’t have come all this way just to see her. For the rest of the short visit there was an uncomfortable knowing that this was less than ideal for both of us. We both carried guilt. For my Mum it was the thought of dragging me down the motorway most weekends, and for me, the thought of not doing that.

The story’s knight in white armour is Visbuzz, a product I invented initially to connect with my Mum in a way that was straightforward to understand and effective to use. Visbuzz is a tablet with an integrated application for the user, like my mum, to connect with those who matter most. The simplicity of the interface means that for even technology novices this device is easy to use, by simply pressing a picture to call!

Visbuzz dams a hole in the market where there is increasing demand and decreasing support; personalised care in homes for those who need connectivity. With studies carried out all over Britain, results have come back pretty glum. Half of over 65 year-olds do not see their families more than once a month and 1/10 elderly people in the UK suffer from “intense loneliness”. This common finding is both shocking and moving – moving me into action to help my mum and those in her position. Visbuzz is a single-task device that connects people with those who matter most to them.

The story of Visbuzz continues to give everyone the opportunity to have a device that can connect them to the people they love, the communities they know and the professionals that can help.

A world in which loneliness doesn’t exist – can it happen?

We have a vision…


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