Emergency hospital admissions in the UK town of Frome have fallen by 17 per cent thanks to an innovative program aiming to combat social isolation.
The Compassionate Frome project was created by local GP Helen Kingston in 2013, with the aim of breaking the cycle of people falling ill and being unable to socialise, which then leads to worsening physical and mental health.
They set up agencies to help people build support networks of family, friends and neighbours and get involved in community activities such as choirs, walking groups, men’s sheds and other social activities.
The result? Hospital admissions dropped over the three years of the program, compared to a 29 per cent rise for the rest of the region. The project also slashed health care costs by 21 per cent.
As we reported here, social connectedness has been shown to have a bigger impact on health than giving up smoking, cutting drinking and losing excess weight.
So could we one day be given a prescription for an afternoon at the pub with our mates?
While there’s no ‘quick fix’ for health issues, researchers studying the Frome findings say it is promising.
Proof friends really are lifesavers.