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SFHA Covid-19 briefing series: combating isolation

Blog by Gemma Connell, SFHA.

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SFHA has produced a series of 10 briefings to help social landlords through the coronavirus emergency.    

The SFHA Combating Isolation briefing focuses on the extent of isolation to people's wellbeing, housing associations services transformed to continue to support their tenants and wider businesses developing adapting to assist communities.   

Social Isolation is the absence of social contact, where you are cut off from normal social networks.  Being isolated involves having no access to services or community involvement and little or no communication with family or friends. At the end of 2015, the Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities concluded social isolation and loneliness are significant problems in Scotland.  https://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/93385.aspx  

In 2018 the Scottish Government published its first national strategy to tackle social isolation and loneliness and build stronger social connections.    https://www.gov.scot/publications/connected-scotland-strategy-tackling-social-isolation-loneliness-building-stronger-social-connections/  

Due to the outbreak of Covid-19, the Scottish Government has set social distancing and staying at home as critical measures to reduce to spread of the virus. https://www.gov.scot/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-and-away-from-others-social-distancing/pages/staying-at-home/ 

This leads to the increase of individuals suffering from social isolation which can cause loneliness and factors affecting mental health.  With these new measures, people will experience the loss of community, family and friends and their usual daily activities.  As well as physical health, social isolation has several effects on mental health such as stress, depression and loneliness.   

Housing associations across the country are committed to providing services to their communities to keep people safe and protect the health and wellbeing of their tenants and people in their local communities.  Several associations have partnered up with business to provide food initiatives: 

  • Easthall Park Housing Co-operative have issued a letter for tenants to advise if they are self-isolating so they can provide additional support needed such as collecting prescriptions and delivering essential goods.

Digital ways of working have become the new norm for businesses.  Housing associations and other organisations have transformed their usual ways of working and service delivery with digital technology.

Business continuity is important and now faced with the current crisis, it has challenged the sector to adapt, digital transformation that once may have taken a few months or years has been integrated into practice in days and weeks. Amidst the coronavirus outbreak, health patients are having online video consultations. SCVO have created an online Coronavirus Community Assistance Directory to allow users to search for organisations that offer non-medical help.   

In this new environment, we must protect our community and the locals and those who are already vulnerable. ScotPHO COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Data has been published which measures vulnerability based on demographic, clinical and social indicators, you can access here.  

Scottish Government have published ‘Supporting vulnerable children and young people; data intelligence report’.  This report explains the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on vulnerable children and families in Scotland in the first few weeks of ‘lockdown’, and how services are adapting and responding to the crisis.  You can access the report here.   

SFHA will be seeking to hold interactive sessions with members to understand the human problems associated with suffering isolation and how as a sector we work together to reduce social isolation amongst tenants and communities.  

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