Addressing social isolation for both the patient and their carer

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Human beings are designed to be social. It has been essential to our survival as a species.

Throughout our evolutionary history, humans have lived in groups, and our ability to cooperate and communicate with others has allowed us to accomplish tasks that would have been impossible for us to do alone.

Social connection provides us with a sense of belonging, which is crucial for our mental and emotional well-being. It gives us a sense of purpose and meaning in life, which is important for our overall happiness.

When a patient does not have this social connection, it can have a significant impact upon their health and their health management. This, in turn, leads to a range of physical, mental and emotional ramifications, such as;

  • An increased risk of developing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and cognitive decline.
  • An increased risk of developing chronic health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
  • An increased susceptibility to infections and illnesses.
  • A lower quality of life.

Sadly, for some patients, social isolation occurs suddenly following a health crisis making it all the more challenging to recover and/or experience a good quality of life when unwell.

The diagnosis of a serious illness, stroke, heart attack, accident, or transitioning to palliative care can be extremely confronting to friends and family members who experience their own emotional response to the shocking news. It is not uncommon for social networks to distance themselves from the realities of the health crisis and avoid the patient all together.

This response is based in fear, awkwardness and internal discomfort. It is a natural human response and one that can be modified through improved education, support and guidance. However, there are very few technology or healthcare solutions that target social networks in this way.

A foundation of the Gather Group approach is improving the engagement and connection to social networks for patients and their primary carers.

By ensuring friends and family know what is needed, when and why – and then supporting and guiding them on who to do these things – we are building the confidence of the network to engage in caring relationships, reducing feelings of awkwardness and improving the isolation that can be experienced by patients.

If we want patients to have the best outcomes possible, their social networks must be supported to ‘stay the course’ and actively continue the essential – and irreplaceable – role of social connection.

Let’s help them to help the patient.

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