AQW 11190/17-22

Ms Sinéad Bradley
Social Democratic and Labour Party
South Down

Tabled Date: 30/11/2020
Answered On Date: 08/12/2020
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister of Health (i) for an update on work within his Department to help with the prevention of loneliness; and (ii) whether his Department would be supportive of the development of a preventing loneliness strategy.

(i) Loneliness is a vital theme within a number of existing and relevant policies of the Department with the overall objective of improving the health and well being of the population. Whilst the Department does not have one separate policy for loneliness, there are a range of policies; programmes and initiatives in place – that make a positive contribute to tackling loneliness - specifically related to health and wellbeing. My officials are currently carrying out a scoping exercise to identify and co-ordinate what is currently in place both in the Department and across the wider landscape of the HSC (in our 5 Trusts and our Arm’s Length bodies). It is anticipated that the first phase of this exercise will be completed by early 2021.
(ii) It is clear from the preliminary research that loneliness is a key issue and as such cannot be resolved by any one Department, organisation or sector working alone. Therefore a collective and collaborative approach would be beneficial.
This would support a more joined up and co-ordinated working together to rebuild approach and identifying existing policies and synergies across organisations and sectors. The findings of the ongoing scoping exercise within my Department will inform how we in DOH and across the HSC move forward, from a policy perspective.