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RSL Care SA (SA)

Ferguson Ave, Myrtle Bank SA

Social Connectedness for Mental Wellbeing 

Residential - Metropolitan - 80 beds/Consumers or more

Award descriptors

  • Diversity
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Social participation and lifestyle

Developing a community-based day program to support existing residents, veterans from other facilities, and potential residents with mental health and social inclusion support.

About this program

An increasing number of post-World War Two veterans are entering aged care that have experienced, and continue to experience, complex mental health diagnosis and/or substance abuse issues along with secondary co-morbidities associated with their service. The significant age difference between existing residents from the silent generation and the incoming baby boomers (currently aged 67-74) results in difficulty assimilating when seeking social support. Lifestyle activities are traditionally tailored toward the silent generation resulting in the incoming baby boomers feeling “left out” of activities relevant to them. This emerging need has been particularly highlighted from within our organisation, due to the prevalence of complex mental health conditions within this cohort

Working closely with mental health services within SA Health, the opportunity to develop a community based day program to support existing residents, residents from other facilities, and potential residents, with their mental health became apparent. At the time of inception, there were limited community engagement options available where residents could increase and strengthen their social support networks in an environment that valued their individual and collective experiences. In response to this identified need, our organisation set about developing a proactive approach in supporting this emerging cohort of veterans with their mental health, through a purposeful social engagement program that sought to reap benefits from the existing sense of identity and belonging that these residents feel towards their service.

The social program is open to residents of our organisation, including veterans living in other aged care facilities, as well as members of the general community who require mental health or social inclusion support. The community mental health support may be accessed through either in-patient or out-patient services within sectors of SA Health’s mental health services. Particularly for outpatients who require admission to residential care in the near future. The social program occurs weekly and includes visiting guests, usually over a lunch that enables the gathering to remain relaxed and open. Over the course of the week there are many informal gatherings and activities that have now arisen as a result of this program. Participants are supported to develop social connectedness with their peers and are encouraged to continue the development of these relationships outside of the social group formalised gatherings.  Residents are developing relationships within the program, and are now more engaged and willing to participate in choices that will enhance their mental wellbeing. We provide access to healthy choices, as well as providing positive support for other co-morbidities they have.

Mental Health is an emerging social issue which does not discriminate a person’s age. This emerging cohort of younger residents with significant mental health issues (including Post Traumatic Stress or PTS), residing in residential aged care, have accessed support for  their mental health that previously they either would not have accepted  or experienced difficulty accessing. Through a structured and facilitated social program, the increased social connectedness of participants and their willingness to engage within the residential care environment has resulted in significant and measurable improvements in their mental health outcomes.

More information about this program

Kellie Whelan at or call (08) 83792600


Friday, 21 December 2018 - 6:25am