SCOPe provides a befriending service for people aged 60 and over who have a lived experience of mental health problems or care for someone else who has a mental health problem.
SCOPe was set up July 2008, as a result of a needs assessment undertaken with older people and carers in Glasgow. One identified need was a service to address social isolation. This formed the evidence base, alongside the outcome of focus group consultation, to secure Big Lottery funding for five years. The SCOPe project was officially launched in November 2008 in Glasgow.
The aim is to provide a supportive time limited relationship between a volunteer and a potentially socially isolated older person. Through befriending isolation is reduced, improving mental health and wellbeing, while increasing people’s confidence through involvement in meaningful activity. back to top
Finding volunteers wasn’t difficult, says Kate Langmead, SCOPe Project Manager. ‘We were keen to address the intergenerational and diversity aspect of the project – 25% of our volunteers are under 25. The volunteers make a big commitment when they get involved. Our induction training is six weeks followed by an interview.
‘We match the volunteer to the older person. They meet on a regular basis to take part in agreed activities together. The kinds of activities range from cinema to music concerts, country walks to swimming and ten pin bowling.’
Forty ‘matches’ have been made since the start of the project with good feedback that increased self confidence is enabling people to make connections they will continue on their own. There is a highly successful pilot project in a hospital rehab ward in Glasgow. Two volunteers go in twice a week.
Scope has also started a group befriending service – the main body of the service is one-to one-befriending but feedback showed people wanted to meet with their peers. A DVD to promote the service was made. back to top
A baseline evaluation was completed by everybody at the start, followed by evaluations at three month intervals. One evaluation focuses on developing self esteem the other on increased participation. ‘We want to ensure the project is meeting its aims, and if not, why not,’ says Kate.
SCOPe held an event in April 2010 to review what has happened since the project began, to identify priorities and plan for the future. The event was attended by 62 participants, including service users and carers, volunteers and professionals working in mental health, later life and carers’ projects. Many positive stories came out of the event. Here are a few examples:
‘We learned that the timing of evaluations is important so that they are helpful to people and not intrusive,’ says Kate. ‘We also learned the importance of being flexible as we go along – listening to participants and adapting the service.’ back to top
‘We are working on a strategy to continue the project after 2013.’ A story telling project is underway.
Kate Langmead GAMH Development Lead for Mental Health in Later Life Telephone: 0141 404 3769 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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