Social interaction and loneliness in healthcare and older adults’ care settings is the focus of much contemporary research and public policy. Social interaction and loneliness impact the quality of life of patients, older adults, families, carers and workers.

This includes their ability to progress and the performance of organizations across the public, private and not-for-profit sectors. However, the literature and discourse on healthcare and older adults’ care points increasingly to:

  • a care deficit, both in funding and in human terms, with insufficient carers available to provide the right type and level of care to those who need it,
  • the healthcare sector faces funding challenges across the world at a time when many populations are ageing rapidly and the dependency ratio is falling.

The Sodexo Institute for Quality of Life held a round-table ‘Dialogue’ in Ottawa with experts from Canada and the US to understand better social interaction and loneliness from a quality of life perspective with regard to:

  • emotions,
  • the changing profile of carers,
  • taking care with technology.

From the perspective of the patient or older adult, loneliness may be experienced in parallel with a number of related emotions such as aggression, stress or feelings of loss of autonomy.

In carers, the emotions that are most likely to help mitigate loneliness in others are compassion and empathy, though carers also have needs that must be managed both for their own progress and the performance of their organization.

Owing to unprecedented demographic shifts, the profile of carers is changing significantly and will continue to do so.

Taking care with technology opens up a range of possibilities to enhance care communities with social networks and the unprecedented availability of data. However, these possibilities are balanced by the very essence of the notions of loneliness and social interaction that still have contact between people at their core.


Download the Report (PDF)
Download the Executive Summary (PDF)
Download the Infographic (PDF)

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