Chain Reaction

An older man smiling

Chain Reaction is a service that supports older people (55+) to live independently in the community. KeyRing was instrumental in designing it and is one of three partners delivering it across Newcastle.

KeyRing believes that everyone has the right to be respected as full members of their community and to contribute to that community. That right does not diminish as people get older, but people may start to need some support in order to maintain it. We believe that a shrinking social circle is not an inevitable part of ageing and that low level support to maintain connections to friends and to the local community helps prevents loneliness and poor health.

Whilst traditional approaches to supporting older people have focused on specialised day services that group all ‘older people’ together and provide them with ‘older people’s activities’, KeyRing’s approach promotes the use of community-based resources and facilities, helping people get involved with what is already available. In doing so it supports and sustains natural friendships and develops new ones, warding off loneliness and social isolation and creating happier communities.

Whilst traditional approaches might keep people safe, they fail to address people’s individual needs and wishes and ignore the skills and talents they have that could be of great benefit to others. Like all our services, Chain Reaction’s support is flexible and personalised and looks at what each person can contribute as well as what they need support with.

As well as improving emotional wellbeing this type of support helps people to maintain their physical health. On a practical Chain Reaction can provide support with things like healthy eating or staying safe in the home.

As well as positive personal outcomes, strong social networks and support to stay healthy at home have a preventative effect – people are less likely to become ill, have an accident, or fall into a crisis. By providing this support to people who are not otherwise eligible for social care we prevent avoidable suffering on their part and reduce costs to the public purse.

What does the support include?

1. One-to-one personalised support with things like health, budgeting, dealing with correspondence, domestic skills, just getting to know someone.

2. Connecting people to their community, including help to get out and do the shopping, finding out what’s going on in the community and local area and help to reconnect or get involved with local groups and activities.

3. Connecting people to others and creating a network of natural support

We want to help to prevent people feeling lonely by:

• having some support to come to groups and meeting new people
• making new friends, or reconnecting with family or old friends connecting with people who have shared interests

There are three levels of support that we provide:

Prevention – free, low-level support, funded by Public Health and provided by our Community Pioneers.

Foundation – support to access the community and get involved in things outside the home and with things like dealing with post and making phone calls.

Life Skills – includes the element of foundation but allows for a longer visit or an extra visit each week for people who have higher needs or would like more support.

Additional services - Lunch Links
This is an additional service which provides a wide range of opportunities for fun, friendship, food, shopping trips, and excursions close to where people live, giving them the chance to meet up with friends and make new ones.

For more information about the project have a look at the Chain Reaction website. You can also read about what it is like to be a Chain Reaction Pioneer here.