Ageing International

, Volume 36, Issue 4, pp 475–491

How Local Interventions Can Build Capacity to Address Social Isolation in Dispersed Rural Communities: A Case Study from Northern Ireland

Article

Abstract

The focus of this paper is on ageing and well-being in rural areas. Existing research has demonstrated the significance of social networks in relation to physical and emotional well-being. A lack of social interaction and erosion of social contacts have been identified as serious issues. In the United Kingdom, recent years have witnessed a plethora of strategies, initiatives and policy documents addressing the well-being of older people. This work has however been largely focused in urban areas with the needs, expectations and attitudes of older people living in rural areas the subject of relatively little research attention. The enduring image of the rural idyll conceals the reality of ageing in the countryside. This paper identifies the issues pertinent to these dispersed communities and reviews a locally-based active ageing group, which aims to build capacity and encourage community cohesion. The research highlights the importance of initiatives which build on and enhance the sense of community, while simultaneously challenging the assumption that older people are needy, dependant, avaricious users of services with little or nothing to contribute.

Keywords

Rural Wellbeing Capacity-building Active-ageing Community 

References

  1. Adams, K. B., Sanders, S., & Auth, E. A. (2004). Loneliness and depression in independent living retirement communities: Risk and resilience factors. Aging & Mental Health, 8(6), 475–485.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, J. (2008). Older people and wellbeing. London: Institute for Public Policy Research.Google Scholar
  3. Alpass, F. M., & Neville, S. (2003). Loneliness, health and depression in older males. Aging & Mental Health, 7(3), 212–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bentley, J. (2002). Barriers to accessing health care: the perspective of elderly people within a village community. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 40, 9–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cattan, M. (2002). Supporting people to overcome social isolation and loneliness. London: Help the Aged.Google Scholar
  6. Cattan, M., White, M., Bond, J., & Learmouth, A. (2005). Preventing social isolation and loneliness among older people: a systematic review of health promotion interventions. Ageing & Society, 25(1), 41–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cohen-Mansfield, J., Marx, M., Lipson, S., & Werner, P. (1999). Predictors of mortality in nursing homes residents. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 52(4), 273–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Countryside Agency. (2002). The state of the countryside. Cheltenham: Countryside Agency.Google Scholar
  9. Desrosiers, J., Gosselin, S., Leclerc, G., Gaulin, P., & Trottier, L. (2000). Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, 31(2), 133–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Eade, D. (1997). Capacity building: An approach to people centred development. London: Oxfam.Google Scholar
  11. Findlay, R. A. (2003). Interventions to reduce social isolation amongst older people: where is the evidence? Ageing & Society, 23, 647–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Forbes, A. (1996). Caring for older people. British Medical Journal, 313, 352–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Garlick, S. (1999) Research basis for regional development capacity building appendix 2 to a regional development policy for Western Australia.Google Scholar
  14. Grundy, E., & Sloggett, A. (2003). Health inequalities in older population: the role of personal capital social resources and socio-economic circumstances. Social Science & Medicine, 56(5), 935–947.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harrop, A. & Palmer, G. (2002). Indicators of poverty and social exclusion in rural England. London: Countryside Agency.Google Scholar
  16. Heenan, D. (2006). The factors influencing access to health and social care in the farming communities of County Down, Northern Ireland. Ageing & Society, 26(3), 378–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Heenan, D. (2009). Rural ageing in Northern Ireland and quality of life amongst older people. Belfast: Office of the First and Deputy First Prime Minister (OFMDFM).Google Scholar
  18. Heenan, D. (2010). Social capital and older people in farming communities. Journal of Ageing Studies, 24, 40–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Home Office. (2003). Building civil renewal. London: Home Office.Google Scholar
  20. Johnson, R. B. (1997). Examining the validity of qualitative research. Education, 118(2), 282–293.Google Scholar
  21. Joseph, A. E., & Cloutier-Fisher, D. (2005). Ageing in rural communities: vulnerable people in vulnerable places. In G. J. Andrews & D. R. Phillips (Eds.), Ageing and place: Perspectives, policy, practice. Routledge studies in human geography. London and New York: Taylor and Francis Group.Google Scholar
  22. Lavin, K. A., & Leyland, A. H. (2006). A comparison of health inequalities in urban and rural Scotland. Social Science & Medicine, 62(6), 1457–1464.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Le Mesurier, N. (2003). The hidden store: Older people’s contribution to rural communities. London: Age Concern England.Google Scholar
  24. Levy, B. R., Slade, M. D., Kunkel, S. R., & Kasl, S. V. (2002). Longevity increased by positive self perception of aging. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 261–270.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lincoln, Y. S., & Guba, E. G. (1985). Naturalistic inquiry. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  26. Murtagh, B. (1998). Community, conflict and rural planning in Northern Ireland. Journal of Rural Studies, 14(2), 221–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. (2005). Annual abstract of statistics. Belfast: NISRA.Google Scholar
  28. Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. (2009). Older people in Northern Ireland. Belfast: NISRA.Google Scholar
  29. O’Shea, E., & Keane, M. (2002). Social entrepreneurship and social services provision in Gaeltacht regions in Ireland. European Research in Regional Science, 12, 58–75.Google Scholar
  30. Pettigrew, S., & Roberts, M. (2008). Addressing loneliness in later life. Aging & Mental Health, 12(3), 302–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Rokach, A. (2004). Loneliness then and now: reflections on social and emotional alienation in everyday life. Current Psychology, 23, 23–40.Google Scholar
  32. RPA (Review of Public Administration). (2006). Better government for Northern Ireland. Belfast: RPANI.Google Scholar
  33. Rural Community Network. (2004). Sustaining rural communities in Northern Ireland, single dwellings in the countryside informing the debate. Belfast: RCN.Google Scholar
  34. Rural Poverty and Inclusion Working Group. (2001). Poverty and social exclusion in rural Scotland. Edinburgh: Scottish Executive.Google Scholar
  35. Savikko, N., Routasalo, P., Tilvis, R. S., Strandberg, T. E., & Pitkala, K. H. (2005). Predictors and subjective causes loneliness in an aged population. Archives of Gerentology & Geriatrics, 41(3), 223–233.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Shortall, S. (2002). Gendered agricultural and rural restructuring: a case study of Northern Ireland. Sociologica Ruralis, 42(2), 160–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Simpson-Young, V., & Russell, C. (2009). The licensed social club: a resource for independence in later life. Ageing International, 34, 216–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Victor, C.R, Scrambler, S.J. Bowling, A. & Bond J. (2005). The prevalence of and risk factors for, loneliness in later life: a survey of older people in Great Britain. Ageing and Society, 25(3) 357–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Walsh, K., & O’Shea, E. (2008). Responding to rural social care needs: older people empowering themselves, others and their community. Health & Place, 14, 795–805.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Wenger, G. C. (1990). Change and adaptation in informal support networks of elderly people. Journal of Ageing Studies, 4(4), 375–389.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wenger, G. C. (2001). Myths and realities of ageing in rural Britain. Ageing & Society, 21, 117–130.Google Scholar
  42. Willis, M., & Dalziel, R. (2009). Capacity Building-enabling and empowering older people as independent active citizens. London: Department of Work and Pensions.Google Scholar
  43. World Health Organisation. (2002). Active ageing: A policy framework. Geneva: World Health Organisation.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Social PolicyUniversity of UlsterDerryNorthern Ireland

Personalised recommendations