Devon health watchdog launches loneliness survey

Sidmouth Library

Sidmouth Library - Credit: Archant

A consumer champion in health and care is calling for views on how loneliness affects people’s lives so more support can be delivered.

Healthwatch Devon has launched a survey, available in Sidmouth Library, asking respondents what led them to become lonely and what helps them feel better.

It has joined forces with the national Campaign to End Loneliness – recognising the impact it can have on physical health, mental health and people’s ability to remain independent.

Healthwatch UK partnership officer Caroline Lee said: “There are many extrinsic and intrinsic factors which can tip somebody into feeling lonely.

“The key point for many is that social isolation can be measured quantifiably, but loneliness itself is a subjective emotional response to isolation which varies in intensity from person to person, depending on their age, characteristics and circumstances.

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“These latter factors aren’t mutually inclusive or exclusive.”

Caroline said Sidmouth, with its high proportion of elderly people, is among the towns in Devon that Age UK has identified as being at risk of loneliness.

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The charity has released ‘heat maps’ that show the eastern end of the town in particular is at ‘very high’ risk. The figures have been calculated using Census 2011 figures for marital status, self-reported health status, age and household size.

Studies show loneliness can have effects such as an increased risk of high blood pressure, a higher chance of developing dementia and make individuals more prone to depression.

The survey can also be found online at

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