Social isolation became an increasing concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, but even prior to that, older adults were already at serious risk for isolation. Beyond the obvious quality of life concerns, there are significant related health concerns as well. In fact, social isolation has been proven to have direct negative impacts on blood pressure, chronic disease, depression, and vulnerability to abuse and neglect.
In December 2019, the Foundation awarded a planning grant to a collaborative of organizations working together to design a community system to reduce older adult isolation in Lackawanna County. The group is led by the United Way of Lackawanna & Wayne Counties and includes a total of nearly 30 partner organizations ranging from social service agencies, institutions of higher education, the Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging, to health care providers. Despite challenges related to COVID, the collaborative persisted and completed their plan for a coordinated system that includes a:
The group presented an overview of their plan to the community through a virtual webinar, which can be viewed below.
The collaborative is currently proceeding with a three-year pilot to test implementation of their plan. Moses Taylor Foundation is excited to continue to support this effort, and happy to have additional support from other local funders including Scranton Area Community Foundation and the NEPA Healthcare Foundation.
As work on this large-scale system continues, the Foundation is also exploring more immediate opportunities to support programming that alleviates older adult isolation.