Introduction

The central focus of this project is on identifying ways of alleviating loneliness and reducing isolation for older men (65+) across three hard-to-reach and marginalised groups: older men living in rural areas who are single or living alone; older gay and bisexual men who are single and living alone; and, older men who are carers for significant others. The project includes a fourth group, single older men (65+) who do not belong to the above three groups, for comparison.

The overarching aim is to develop an in-depth understanding of the ways in which marginalised groups of older men seek to maintain social engagement and social participation in later life. This includes participation in formalised interventions targeted at reducing loneliness. Through a qualitative interpretivist approach, the research team will generate findings from 80 semi-structured interviews with older men from the four groups and 20 semi-structured interviews with stakeholders currently providing interventions targeted at older men in South West England. Interviews with older men will include completion of a social convoy mapping exercise to identify membership and strength of relationships across social networks.

The research will identify ways in which social care support and interactions could better take account of the social wellbeing of older men from marginalised and hard-to-reach groups. Findings will be disseminated through four engagement workshops and through practice-oriented resources co-produced with Age UK.