Home' Community Care Review : CCR May-Jun 2015 Contents "People don't need to put up with it.
There is very effective support, treatment
and therapy that you can use if you're
feeling depressed," she says.
"It just doesn't come with old age and
there are many practical things you can do
to help older Australians stay at home and
protect their mental health."
BeyondBlue's recent publication
Connections Matter is catalogue of practical
advice for people experiencing isolation,
and their family and friends. For those
working in community care, the resource
can help to identify when a client needs
extra social support.
The booklet asks people to complete a
checklist to identify their current level of social
interaction -- for example, how often they
spend time with friends or family, stop for a
chat with somebody or attend a group activity.
It provides tips on boosting social
connectivity, whether it's through technology
like Skype, checking a local council website
for groups and activities, joining a club or
volunteering, and provides a template for
an action plan to set small goals, such as
walking around the block three times a week.
A continuing theme is the importance
for older Australians who are struggling to
start talking about it, says Harman. "There's
nothing to be ashamed about. Conditions
like depression and anxiety are illnesses."
She suggests the older person talks to
someone they trust, such as a GP, relative or
community care worker, and then draw up
an action plan.
For friends and family of someone
who seems lonely, Harman advises they
introduce the subject gently, and to persist.
Chessman agrees it is vital for family and
friends to check-in with loved ones, as well as
offering to go with them to an event or group.
"Many older people don't want to be
seen as a burden to their families," she says.
"They often won't reach out when perhaps
She praises consumer directed care
(CDC) because people can set the reduction
of isolation and loneliness as a therapeutic
goal and include this in their package of
care -- for example, by asking for funding to
access social activities.
AnglicareSA runs excursions, a number of
interest and hobby groups, men's sheds and
beyondblue's Connections Matter:
Chessman says that home care workers
get people talking about what interests
them and find activities to match. "If they
love trains, we find a train enthusiasts
group and we go with them. It's about baby
steps and working with them."
The provider also runs a computer
group, Don't Forget Your Tablet, to teach
seniors about Skype, Facebook and
FaceTime to link up with family and friends.
Similarly, Brightwater Care Group in
Perth helps their home care clients make
Sandy Komen, manager of Brightwater's
at home services, tells CCR that technology
can be a powerful way to connect people.
The provider has an e-friends network and
also teaches people to use social media to
connect with loved ones.
Brightwater works with clients and
their families to address barriers to social
engagement. This can include rehabilitation
to increase physical mobility, walking pets,
teaching clients how to use public transport
and their volunteer visitor program.
"The people that we support, we know
we can make a difference to their lives, just
by turning up. People say they look forward
to the day when our workers drop in. We try
to build-up their strength and confidence,"
THE BOOTH'S BIG DATE
For their first date, Barry Booth took his
sweetheart Beverly to Harry's Café de
Wheels for pie and mushy peas. They ate
their pies out the front of Garden Island
dockyard where Barry was stationed in
Fast forward 50 years and two
children, three foster children and eight
grandchildren later, to Barry and Beverly's
more glamourous second date last
September. This time they took a flight over
Perth, followed by a romantic dinner.
The flight was paid for by Life's
Possibilities, a Brightwater program that
provides excursions for home care clients.
Beverly says the second date was well
worth the half-century wait.
"It was absolute magic. I was amazed
at the number of swimming pools. I so
enjoyed every minute of it. He was such a
gentleman. God he was gorgeous," she says.
Brightwater also provides the Booths
with invaluable help around the house,
which they need after Beverly suffered
multiple brain aneurysms in 1998. Beverly
also receives help with her personal care
and goes shopping once a week with a
Barry has also had assistance in his role
as a full-time carer for Beverly, which he
says can sometimes feel lonely.
He says that just being able to talk to
somebody else is invaluable.
"One of the sad things about our change
of life was that prior to Bev's falling ill we
had lots of friends. When Bev came out of
the hospital we didn't see anybody at our
place. No-one came," Barry says.
The couple say the support they receive
from Brightwater, which also includes
attending regular lunches and other
social events under Brightwater's Brighter
Moments program, has changed their lives.
Barry says daily visits from support
workers "brightens your day" and he enjoys
gardening and swapping stories and recipes
for pickles and jams.
"I like the social events too. You meet
people in the same circumstances. As long
as they don't make me dance! This lot will
be friends for life."
Beverly says it has made her "very
content and very happy". n
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