UCC CARL Research with Friendly Call Cork

Friendly Call Cork has been really privileged to have UCC student Paul Lehane working with us since October 2016 completing research on our call service

‘Friendly Call Cork – An Exploration of Befriending Services in Addressing Loneliness and Isolation Amongst Older Individuals in Cork City’

Paul has completed his research at this stage which included conducting a number of interviews with Friendly Call Cork clients.

What the project found;

  • “I think we all need someone, someone to share our burdens with and that’s what Friendly Call Cork do, they listen”.
  • “I depend on it ……..100% depend on this call”.

    l-r Dr. Fiona Dukelow, Dr Anna Kingston CARL-Coordinator, Brenda Barry Friendly Call Cork, Paul Lehane UCC Research Student, President Patrick O’Shea UCC
  • “I belong to the Friendly Call, I can say that now, I belong to the Friendly Call”.
  • “It’s unbelievable, knowing that someone is going to check on you every day……. If something happened to me I know that the alarm would be raised, that’s the most important thing”.
  • “You know that you are at least going to get one phone call a day”.

Conclusions & Recommendations

  • The results of this research project clearly show that social isolation and loneliness can have very serious health related outcomes for older adults. This link should be recognised as a priority by all those working in areas related to older adults in light of the growing trends for ageing populations. Early recognition and intervention strategies could therefore help alleviate the risk to older adults.
  • As the Friendly Call Cork service predominantly deals with residents of Cork City and suburbs the researcher would recommend that the phone call service be expanded to try and reach older people living in rural areas who might be especially vulnerable to loneliness and social isolation.
  •   Currently the service has a 70% female and 30% male ratio, as such the researcher would recommend that the service tries to facilitate more of an outreach campaign aimed at men to try to make sure that more men have a chance to avail of the service.
  • As a number of interviewees expressed a desire for help to get out for a walk, and building on evidence pointing to the importance of physical activity, the researcher would advocate that the service tries to incorporate a mixed approach to social outings with consideration given to having events that would allow for physical exercise.
  • While most of those being interviewed were happy with the amount of social activities provided the researcher would be mindful of research that shows that intervention models that have a strong social element have been shown to be most effective.
  • One of the most prominent findings of the research was the degree to which the participants depended on Friendly Call Cork to get them through serious emotional issues. With this in mind the researcher would recommend increased levels of training for volunteers to make sure that all those engaging in serious and personal conversations are in a position to effectively manage such calls.
  • In keeping with development ideas of reaching other vulnerable older people that were expressed by interviewees, the researcher would recommend that the project managers at Friendly Call Cork try to expand the marketing of the service so that its visibility and reach is increased.
  • The researcher would strongly recommend that the Friendly Call Cork service should undertake further research in order to attain a strong and reflective body of research that could be used to elevate the role that Friendly Call Cork and befriending services in general play in dealing with the issues of loneliness and social isolation amongst older adults in Ireland.

Download Friendly Call Cork CARL Research Project 2017

What is CARL Community-Academic Research Links?

Community Academic Research Links (CARL) is a community engagement initiative provided by University College Cork to support the research needs of community and voluntary groups/ Civil Society Organisations (CSOs). These groups can be grass roots groups, single issue temporary groups, but also structured community organisations. Research for the CSO is carried out free of financial cost by student researchers.CARL seeks to:

  • provide civil society with knowledge and skills through research and education;
  • provide their services on an affordable basis;
  • promote and support public access to and influence on science and technology;
  • create equitable and supportive partnerships with civil society organisations;
  • enhance understanding among policymakers and education and research institutions of the research and education needs of civil society, and enhance the transferable skills and knowledge of students.