A common problem faced by elderly communities is social isolation, and it’s something that has physical and psychological consequences. It’s prevalent amongst marginalised individuals, such as Aboriginals and Torres Strait Islanders, LGBTI, disabled, from different cultures who aren’t first language speakers of English, as well as those who are caregivers, or live in remote areas. As an individual or organisation involved in the Australian care community, you’re in the unique position to address this problem.
Loneliness amongst the elderly is created and compounded by many factors:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders experience lingering isolation due to historical forced removals from their land.
- There are limited translation resources available for those from different cultures with different home languages.
- Many LGBTI adults are estranged from their relatives.
- For the disabled, leaving the house is a logistical challenge. Many live in remote areas with few public transport routes, having been forced out of central districts due to property prices.
- Many older individuals find it challenging to access online resources such as My Aged Care, due to lack of access and understanding.
These groups may often suffer from a fear of discrimination or distrust of government services and strangers, and many are concerned that their unique needs will not be understood. This is why many only end up seeking help when an emergency, like serious illness or hospitalisation occurs.
There are many ways in which aged care businesses or service providers can foster and build connectedness, social inclusion, and social support. This includes using existing community resources, working with volunteers, and providing transport.
These organisations should consider adopting a tailored approach that focuses on relationship quality, provides meaningful activity, and works with local councils. Any strategies, programs or support groups created to address this concern should be developed with community leaders to ensure it remains sustainable and inclusive for all.
Small-scale volunteer initiatives and local community groups can also partner with intermediary organisations that manage grants and peer networks, providing them with capacity, funding, and infrastructure.
It is also important for aged care businesses or service providers to remain connected amongst themselves through conferences, meetings, and face to face interaction amongst their peers. This allows communities to pool resources and support referrals – something that our CommCare system can help facilitate. Contact us today to find out more.