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Healthy Living for Seniors Chatswood

Community Outreach in Public Housing
Healthy Living for Seniors Chatswood
Sydney, NSW

Home Care - Metropolitan, 80 + beds 

Award descriptors:
Communication and engagement, Social participation, Living environment

About the program
The Community Outreach in Public Housing Project (The Project) was established in partnership with a Department of Housing Estate (The Estate). The Estate currently has 360 tenants all of whom are financially and socially disadvantaged. Of these residents 75% are over the age of 65, 25% are of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds and 0.5% are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. It was identified that tenants who reside in The Estate were physically and socially isolated from the community due to the locality and access to The Estate. The Project design was developed to promote social participation and connection through group activities which promote health, wellbeing and independence.

The Project was developed by utilising a number of engagement techniques including providing information and creating opportunity for individuals to participate in a social support group service. The objective of the Project is for individuals  to ‘participate in community life and feel socially included through structured, group based activities that develop, maintain or support independent living and social interaction’ (CHSP manual 2015).

The Project has a great emphasis on facilitating engagement and participation to improve individual social wellbeing, physical health, mental health and relationships. Individuals also had the opportunity to develop new skills, receive education on healthy lifestyle choices and engage with different cultural backgrounds to share life experiences.

What we did
The identified objectives and outcomes for the Project were:

  • The promotion of social engagement
  • Reducing barriers of disadvantaged
  • Increasing social participation
  • Reducing social isolation
  • Overall holistic increase of health and wellbeing

The Project encouraged innovation through consultation with tenants and stakeholders. The surveying process was initiated with tenants prior to starting with the Project and then consistently throughout to gain feedback. This ensured we had an open environment where either positive or negative feedback was encouraged.

The Project implemented a consultative approach to the planning and implementation methodology through surveys, focus groups and 1:1 feedback which were used as strategies to develop the design of the initiative. Social engagement surveys, Australian Community Participation Questionnaire (ACPQ) and ICEpop CAPability Measure for Older Adults (ICECAP-O) were also completed with clients to benchmark their current social wellness.

A survey was conducted a month after the Project commenced to keep track of client goals and identify additional goals. This identified additional activities and skills the participants would like to have implemented. 

The Project engaged clients in a variety of activities. 

  • A formal information session was held at The Estate’s Wellbeing Centre where approximately 15 tenants attended.
  • An informal BBQ information session was held at The Estate approximately 40 information packs were handed out.
  • Attendance at The Estate’s Wellbeing Centre (1 hour a week for 8 weeks) to support 1:1 enquiries, three tenants were assisted regarding the provision of information about aged care.
  • Three client focus groups held at the social support group service to gather information of tenants needs, wants and limitations, this enabled the group to gain insight of the model. During these focus groups we supported 25 clients through assisted referrals to the My Aged Care system.

Individual needs and goals were assessed at the commencement of the service. Many tenants living within The Estate have different cultural backgrounds. There is particularly a large population of Mandarin speakers so we sourced a volunteer that could translate to ensure we were meeting their needs.

We engaged with FACS, the Estate’s Wellbeing Steering Committee and the tenants to develop the design of the project, utilising the provision of statistics, the committee’s feedback and the information gathered from the focus groups.

Why we did it 
The Project was established to engage individuals who are financially and socially disadvantaged. The relationship between income, wealth, level of education and social influence is directly related to a person’s ability to engage with, and influence the society around them (Keleher & Murphy, 2007). 

Due to the location of The Estate it was identified that tenants were experiencing social exclusion, with many identifying they found it difficult to leave their apartments and those that could leave needed to be physically mobile to be able to access their local community. 

The Project aimed to allow individuals to:

  • Socialise and form relationships with one another,
  • Reduce social isolation,
  • Enable individual to access community and services,
  • Improved individual’s wellbeing through participation physical and mental activities.

Stakeholder needs were assessed through the involvement of the NSW Family and Community Services, the Estate’s Wellbeing Steering Committee as well as Tenants of the Estate.

The NSW Family and Community Services were engaged to assist with the development of the Project by providing statistics regarding the need of the community.

Discussions with the President of the Estate’s Wellbeing Steering Committee were conducted to further highlight the needs for individuals to have access to the broader community in a supported and welcoming environment and that the Project would need to focus on this for maximum outcome.

Focus groups were conducted with tenants from The Estate to identify how they would like to be supported to gain social independence physically, mentally and nutritionally.

Who worked with us
The President of the Estate’s Wellbeing Steering Committee was a key contact in the development, implementation and operation of the project. A number of meetings were conducted to engage with the Steering Committee about the needs of The Estate’s community and to share that the Project had capacity to support individuals. The President and the Committee were able to identify the initial needs of The Estate’s community, describe what was required and then assisted to promote The Project.

A key relationship in the development of this project was to establish a relationship with the FACS Engagement Officer and Project Officer. Through engagement with key contacts we were able to identify the main goals and engage with individuals, who had been identified as needing support in social engagement. They also provided feedback regarding health issues and statistics of the estate and we were able to implement a holistic service that was able to cater individuals, social, physical, mental and nutritional health.

Client focus groups were conducted with tenants from The Estate to establish the base line of what individuals felt important to them in participating in a Social Support group service. The focus groups were also able to establish the level of health and wellbeing that individuals wanted but also expand into new areas of skill development.

What we learned 
Evaluation and continuous improvement
A feedback survey was conducted with clients to evaluate the program  to identify what benefits were for each individual within the group. This was completed a month into the service where the clients had attended 5 sessions. All clients were able to identify their individual benefits and provide suggestions on how we could continue to evolve the activities currently being provided. 

Social engagement surveys (ACPQ & ICECAP-O) were also completed with the clients at the commencement of the service to be able to track individual continuous improvement needs and evaluate the effectiveness of the interventions.

The staff involved in designing and implementing the group are constantly looking for feedback from the clients either verbally or looking at their level of engagement in each activity. Each week the program was tweaked as we identified what skills the clients wanted to learn in order increase their physical activity as well as to identify which clients wanted to participate in quieter activities such as reading current affairs or completing word games to increase their cognition. We then needed to look at different ways of expanding the program to maintain the clients’ interests and then encourage them to take ownership of their development and what activities they would like to be engaged in.

The outcomes and benefits for the clients have been very significant and the individual experiences have been captured and documented.

Tenants of The Estate have stated that they have had the opportunity to meet people and form relationships with people that they hadn’t met before within the same complex. This has enabled them to engage and socially interact with their local community. Some tenants who speak English as their first language have said they have been able to communicate with those that speak Mandarin and it is no longer a barrier. They can participate in activities together and have had a positive interaction.

Clients have also had the opportunity to learn new skills such as badminton, computer work or playing pool. This has also given the clients the ability to identify skills they wish to learn and have suggested they would like to have assistance with learning English as a second language as they do find this a barrier in their day to day activities. 

In partnership with The Project, FACS has been able to promote and ensure tenants are informed and aware that the group is running and encourage tenant attendance.

The President the Estate’s Wellbeing Steering Committee has advised that the participation of the tenants has achieved one of their goals to reduce social isolation.

Through the Project we have been able to develop a program that can be implemented for other financially and disadvantaged groups located in similar areas.

Improvements include ongoing review and benchmarking of the service by looking at social wellbeing and participation with the implementation of the social engagement survey. For ongoing continuous improvement purposes it was identified that the social engagement survey needs to be conducted at the beginning of the service for baseline data, then after three months, then annually to ensure client goals are identified and targeted.

This will ensure that the clients are continually engaged in the program and ensure they are being challenged in the development of new skills where they wish and increasing their engagement scores.

Group projects under the model encourage group activity and individual participation and development, fostering the individual’s health and wellbeing. Implementation of surveys and assessment tools enabled the service to benchmark participation benefits.

We now have a framework that can be used to identify, design and implement a similar group engagement initiative for other financially and socially disadvantaged groups within the community.

There is now a dedicated day and allocated staff within the service which can sustain the group with our allocated funding. We continue to monitor through ongoing completion of the social engagement surveys and conducting regular reviews to continue to maintain or identify client goals.

The service also been identified as having potential to expand and provide support throughout the week to increase engagement  from The Estate and to offer services to other special needs groups using this model of engagement.

More information on this program: 
Jacki Attridge, , or phone (02) 9376 0474

Friday, 21 December 2018 - 6:49am