Everything you need to know about leading an independent life as you get older

Two elderly women sitting down with food on lap and one person stood behind at TRIP, Honiton

TRIP provides a number of befriending services to older people within the Honiton area. - Credit: TRIP

Living an independent life as you get older may come with some challenges, but there’s always support on hand to help you overcome them. 

Whether it’s assisting with the weekly food shop, providing a lift to a doctor’s appointment or simply having a cup of tea and a chat, TRIP’s Stronger Communities Together Support Service enable people to maintain an independent lifestyle for as long as possible. 

We sit down with Sharon Thorne, community manager, and Caroline Retter, community engagement facilitator, to discuss the importance of supporting the older members of the Honiton community. 

Q: Why did you start your Stronger Communities service? 

A: There were several reasons why we launched our new service – Covid was perhaps the biggest event that brought the need for extra support into focus, especially for older people. We’ve provided a befriending service to the local community for the past 10 years, bringing companionship and company to those who need it most. 

In recent years, the isolation felt by older members of the community has been heightened due to the pandemic – as connections with loved ones greatly reduced. The aim of our new support service is to extend a helping hand to those who need it, so that they can lead a healthy, happy and independent life. 

Sharon Thorne holding food next to older neighbour at TRIP, Honiton

The Stronger Communities Together Support Service helps people with their weekly shopping. - Credit: TRIP

Q: How does the new support service work? 

A: The Stronger Communities project will be supplementary to the other services at TRIP – the core aspects of the service will be provided by paid staff, who will be supported by a number of volunteers. Being a hybrid service greatly increases the scope of what we can help with. 

Our team can aid with a variety of daily tasks, such as arranging transport to medical appointments, filling out forms, helping with the weekly food shop or even accompanying them on a trip to the seaside. 

We want people to feel as though they can ask for support with anything that may be troubling them, no matter what it may be. Building a high level of rapport and trust is a central goal of the support service.  

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Q: What makes a service like this so vital to the local community? 

A: Many health and care services have been pushed to the limit, not just in the Honiton area but nationally. Nurses and carers can’t always visit someone at home for a check-up, and many older people would rather live independently for as long as possible than go into a residential care setting. 

As a charity, our aims with this project are to help people learn new skills and make their own choices alongside the extra assistance we provide. It’s so rewarding to help someone prepare a meal, teach them a few new cooking skills then sit down and share it with them.  

We understand that recognising you need assistance can be a significant barrier to overcome – that's why it’s so important that people know we are here to help. 

Young Man Helping Senior Neighbor With Paperwork At Home

The new Stronger Communities project can assist with a wide range of daily tasks. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Q: What are the most rewarding aspects of leading an independent lifestyle? 

A: There are huge benefits to a person’s wellbeing when they feel able to take care of themselves, and also have access to support for certain things. We’ve discovered that having someone on hand to drive you to see loved ones, or accompany you whilst walking your dog greatly improves people’s happiness.  

Carrying out daily tasks individually, rather than receiving round-the-clock care, can also have a positive impact on people’s physical and mental health. This often has a knock-on effect for that person, reducing the chances of a hospital call-up and lowering stress levels considerably. It’s wonderful to see how many people can live happily and healthily when they receive a little extra support. 

To find out more about the Stronger Communities Together Support Service, visit tripcta.org/communities-together/, call 01404 46529 or email sct@tripcta.org.