Less Social Integration—Felt By Shift Workers And Older People

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People are part of a large, dynamic society and everyone deserves to feel this sense of belongingness. However, do all of us have a fair share of this feeling? According to the research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), shift workers (those who work on impermanent hours) and older people are more likely to feel socially excluded.

Dr. Matt Barnes, the study leader, explained that participation in particular activities like sports, arts, volunteering or social networking plays a role in gaining that feeling of being part of society. He further added that the study depicts the presence of barriers to participation in these activities among older people and those who work by shifting.

The study emphasizes that work is upheld by the Government as the best path towards personal well-being, with worklessness being tied with low income and social isolation. However, according to Dr. Barnes’ research, working non-standard hours can affect people’s chances in engaging and integrating with society.

Moreover, two-thirds of workers work at atypical times. These workers’ leisure time is negatively influenced by less available services and persons who can accompany them in their leisure time. Also, these people had reduced time to socially indulge in face-to-face interactions, especially when they are scheduled on night shift or during weekend. In contrast, workers having a regular working schedule during weekdays (8am-7pm) are blessed with more instances to socialize, and can spend their free time over 8 hours. It was further revealed that evening workers have only 6 hours and 43 minutes allotted for participatory activities each week, while, Sunday workers only have 5 hours.

Dr. Barnes elaborated, “By getting people to keep a diary and analyzing the way they spend their time over a 24-hour period…we have been able to understand how they participate and what might be done to create greater social inclusion.”

Furthermore, it was made clear that older people encounter hurdles to participatory activities; minimized social interactions and social exclusion happens among one million older adults. The time spent with friends is an opportunity to establish social networks and gain their needed support. This is necessary in helping them to cope with significant life events and preventing social isolation. Also, socializing with people outside of their family can aid in developing their independence. Moreover, the research showed two scenarios faced by older people. First, they spend sufficient time with friends. The other, they spend 11 hours alone during weekdays, and at weekends 10 ½ hours alone, excluding sleep.

Older people also participate in social activities through visiting/receiving visitors, communicating over the phone, celebrating birthdays, as well in religious activity and acts of generosity. In addition, women are more apt in terms of social networking activities.

In conclusion, Dr. Barnes emphasized how social integration is vital to an improved quality of life, regardless of age. He added that improvement in accessibility of public transport and other services by the government and building social clubs (for shift workers and elderly people) can greatly help in encouraging social participation among these populations.




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