The growing number of elderly people isolated in their own homes has motivated two Gwent nursing veterans to launch a new enterprise designed to offer friendship as well as practical support that boosts their quality of life.

Margaret Mortell and Hellena Kambadza, who between them have more than 60 years’ nursing experience, have launched Cara Caring Services, based in Newport and providing care to people in their own homes across the Gwent area.

Joining them as registered manager is experienced domiciliary care manager Philip Jenkins, who is building a team of around 20 carers specifically trained to lift service-users’ spirits as well as attend to their physical and practical needs.

According to the Welsh Government-backed programme, Ageing Well in Wales, isolation isn’t just a social issue; it has become a major health problem with research showing that loneliness is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

It is associated with conditions such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension as well as mental health issues, including dementia.

It’s estimated that a third of people aged over 65 live alone and the number of people in this age group is expected to rise by 40 per cent over the next two decades.

Hellena Kambadza said: “During our nursing careers Margaret and myself felt increasingly concerned about the number of older people, and indeed young people with physical limitations, who face long periods of loneliness. Now we’ve retired from our mainstream careers we’ve decided to create an agency that not only provides quality care at home but helps brighten up the lives of those we serve.

“We chose the name ‘Cara’ because it is the Gaelic word for ‘friend’ and implies both professional care and friendship combined.

"We want our team to enhance people’s quality of life not only through our regular care visits to their homes but also by actively helping them make connections in the community. Many have lost those connections over the years, perhaps following the death of their partner, and we aim to be proactive in helping them rebuild that regular human contact.”

Philip Jenkins said: “We’ve already got some excellent people on our team but we’re busy recruiting more because there is huge and growing demand for support that helps people stay in their own homes. We are determined to recruit people who have the right personality and a real passion for improving peoples’ lives.”

Cara Caring Services is based in Newport city centre and serves clients across the city and surrounding local authority areas.