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GP practice launches group to tackle loneliness in older patients

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A local GP practice in Sheldon has partnered up with a national charity to tackle the issue of loneliness amongst older patients.

Coventry Road GP Practice will host a monthly tea party in accordance with an initiative by national charity Contact the Elderly.

The tea parties are an opportunity for older people to come together with the aim to reduce the number of appointments made by isolated older people. The initiative will help GPs to offer a new approach to supporting patients who do not need medical attention, but are experiencing loneliness.

The group at the Coventry Road Practice held their first tea party in September and plan to hold one every month on a Thursday afternoon. They take place in the waiting room area of the practice at 2314 Coventry Road, Sheldon B26 3JS. For details of the next tea party, call Practice Manager Carol McAndrew on 0121 743 2154.

NHS Solihull Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) supports this new approach and hopes other GP practices across the region will follow by hosting their own monthly tea parties.

Dr Sue Harrower, GP at Coventry Road and Governing Body member at Solihull CCG, said: “We welcome Contact the Elderly’s initiative to enhance the wellbeing of our more vulnerable patients. The monthly tea parties are important and can make a big difference to those who really need it. The first one we hosted was a real success, people really enjoyed it. We’re proud to offer this to our patients.”

Pamela Walker, Contact the Elderly’s Birmingham Development Officer, said:

“I’m delighted to see how successful the first tea party was at the practice in Sheldon. The gatherings offer the much-needed face-to-face contact which is missed by so many lonely older people. Being able to work with the surgery to provide this solution for its older patients means that we’re relieving pressure on the GP practice, and the NHS with regards to appointment waiting times.

“It would be great to see other GP practices launch their own groups, all we ask is for everyone to give a couple of hours a month to spend time with the older generation. The time commitment is so small but the tea parties make a profound difference to the lives of our older guests.”

Contact the Elderly has almost 600 tea party groups across the country, and is appealing for more volunteers and local funding to reach more older people. The charity aims to relieve the acute loneliness of isolated older people, aged 75 and over through running monthly tea parties within local communities.

Photograph: Coventry Road patients at the tea afternoon in October 2015.

Tags: Solihull patient gp practice community coventry road contact the elderly elderly vulnerable lonely isolated practice volunteer frail