We’re on a mission to add ten years to life expectancy through better social health
- Poor social health reduces life expectancy by ten years
- Our social health is getting worse, not better
- Improving social health is difficult
- Joy is taking an innovative approach to help
1 Poor social health reduces life expectancy by ten years
200 years ago, the average life expectancy was 40. Thanks to clinical advances someone born today can expect to live until their 90s. However, people with poor social health die ten years younger.
Poor social health is a precursor to physical and mental health problems. People with poor social health are more likely to have heart problems and die from cancer. Their wounds heal more slowly. Simply put, populations with poor social health are less healthy and more expensive to look after.
2 Our social health is getting worse, not better
30% of adults have an unmet social need such as loneliness or debt-related stress. This is taking its toll on stretched resources. For instance, 20% of a GP's time is spent with patients who have social health concerns.
This problem will get worse. It is increasingly easy for us to lose connection with other people. Remote working, remote care and social media are contributing to a decline in our social wellbeing - we need to address this problem.
3 Improving social health is difficult
The essence of good social health is meaningful human connection. It looks like strong friendships and people helping each other. But achieving this is difficult. When it comes to systematically improving social health there are two big problems:
Big problem #1: Fear and discomfort
- The idea of meeting new people is daunting. There is a fear of rejection and stigma attached to being vulnerable with others. Added to this there are practical barriers to overcome such as transport which add to the emotional cost. It is a vicious cycle and becomes more difficult as your social health deteriorates. Social prescribers will often say that the #1 problem they have is non-attendance. Fear and discomfort are a key part of this.
Big problem #2: Demonstrating impact
- The evidence base for social health interventions is weak. We know that good social health is important, but we don't know what interventions in what quantities work best. Until we routinely measure the outcomes of social health interventions there is a risk of looking like 'busy fools' and not being able to show results.
4 Joy is taking an innovative approach to help
Our mission is to add ten years to life expectancy through better social health. We're doing this by making social health interventions less daunting and measuring outcomes.
Joy is a web application that:
- Enables healthcare professionals, people who care for loved ones and community groups to offer a less daunting experience for an individual with a social health need.
- Builds confidence in people to look after their social health.
- Makes it easy for community groups to launch new social health initiatives.
- Measures outcomes and shows the results of social health interventions.