visualize | communicate | ENGAGE
How are the maps helping to combat loneliness?
When the maps are used alongside local knowledge and an understanding of local neighbourhoods, they can be used to improve the allocation of limited resources across a geographic area and can help us to understand whether existing services are reaching areas of need. They may highlight some areas which have not previously been considered.
What are you planning next for the maps?
Ideally we would like to include other indicators such as deprivation as well as other age-related conditions that would help to give us a better insight into areas of need. To some extent this comes down to knowing what data is available. We have also been talking about overlaying different maps.
What are the benefits of using InstantAtlas?
Age UK is the country's largest charity dedicated to helping everyone make the most of later life. It campaigns on different issues from calling for reform of the care system to trying to improve the bus route in local communities. Age UK has been exploring what factors make older people more at risk of loneliness and whether people with similar risk levels live near each other. We spoke to research adviser Susan Davidson about the project and how the charity used interactive mapping software to create a map showing risk of loneliness.
How did you find out about InstantAtlas?
One of my colleagues used it for another project which involved gathering data for partner organisations to enable comparison of indicators about older people. After he left we realised it could be used in other ways, so I did the training and with the help of the support team started to work on the loneliness heat maps.
What data did you use to compile the atlas?
The data comes from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA), a representative longitudinal survey of people aged 50 or over living in the community in England. The survey has been used to identify six factors associated with an older person being often lonely: self-reported health status, household size, housing ownership, activities of daily living (ADLs), multiple eye conditions, and marital status.
The Office for National Statistics used these indicators to create data tables that applied the risk factors and weighting to the Census (2011) which then allowed us to identify the risk of loneliness at neighbourhood level. We put this data together with the mapping software to create maps which highlight the hotspots of highest risk of loneliness for older people.
What sort of user feedback have you had?
Users have told us they really like the maps because they can see straight away where the hotspots are, so it’s been really positive feedback. Our staff also like them because they can send links to partners and other organisations to help people get interested in our loneliness work. The maps also help when it comes to our campaigns and fundraising.
Other stories that may interest you.
InstantAtlas talks to Kayte Lawton, Senior research fellow
How a think tank is using data presentation to turn a project on the needs of older people in London into a useful resource
InstantAtlas talks to Michael Cooke,
Head of Analytics
Marie Curie Cancer Care’s interactive atlas helps present a nationwide picture of end of life care
in the UK
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