Evaluation of the Close Encounters Project

Mary Linda Amos*, Amy Drahota, Mark Amos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


Loneliness has been shown to impact upon health and wellbeing, and effective interventions are needed to combat loneliness and social isolation in older age. This convergent mixed-methods study evaluates the ‘Close Encounters’ project - a service established to reduce loneliness among older people. A quantitative analysis was undertaken of data from 1215 service users using latent class growth models and descriptive statistics to explore loneliness scores and goal attainments over a three-month follow-up period, together with qualitative interviews with six service users and four staff members exploring their experiences via thematic analysis. Triangulation of methods was used to facilitate interpretation. Results showed the service was successful in reducing loneliness overall, with those under 80 years old, outside of a national lockdown, and receiving facilitated support, benefitting more from the service. The interviews highlighted the personalised nature of the service being a driver to its success, and that the varying aetiology of loneliness impacts upon how loneliness is experienced and if/how it can be overcome. Conclusions of our evaluation highlight the value of embedding practices to ensure that equality, diversity, and inclusion are recognised and addressed in the way services operate. Lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic disproportionately impacted individuals with hearing difficulties and cognitive impairment, due to barriers to communication brought about by the new rules. Implications for practitioners and commissioners of services are that they will benefit by understanding the importance of accurate data gathering, and that successful service delivery requires time to support and empower clients to take user-led steps to achieving personalised jointly agreed goals. Offering a range of solutions to tackle the underlying causes of loneliness within one service, was considered a strength and led to more joined up support. This evaluation adds evidence into what works and how to reduce loneliness.
Original languageEnglish
Commissioning bodyAge UK
Number of pages65
Publication statusPublished - 14 Dec 2021

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