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I write to welcome the news of new laws passed to allow for the integration of Scotland’s health and social care services.

In theory, this could have a welcome and significant impact on older people in the country. The two realms are so intertwined that a single point for care co-ordination makes perfect sense and should help prevent people slipping through the cracks.

We would also encourage these public agencies to work alongside the voluntary sector and look at the wider issues facing older people in particular.

Our charity, Contact the Elderly, supports more than 750 older people in Scotland who are over the age of 75, and have suffered, or are at risk of suffering, social isolation.

Loneliness among our ageing population is something that is only set to increase and the ramifications are clear to see, through poor mental and physical health which places pressure on the NHS, as well as a significant demand on already overstretched social work departments. The sad stories and realities faced by these people cannot be underestimated.

Acting to prevent or alleviate their suffering must be central to the decision-making process for policy makers, and those who are coming into direct contact with older people such as doctors, occupational therapists and support workers.

The earlier someone is offered support the better. This support can be something as simple as joining our monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties.

The premise is simple – our guests join other older people and volunteers for a trip out of the house in good company, being driven by one of our volunteer drivers to tea at a volunteer host’s home. This gives them something to look forward to and helps forge lasting friendships – we have been told time and time again the enormous impact this can make.

Finding ways for the public and voluntary to most effectively support our rapidly ageing population is a pressing need, and this latest streamlining of health and social services is certainly a step in the right direction.

Valerie Crookston

Contact the Elderly

Edinburgh

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