Wellbeing support to help reconnect Upper Clutha seniors
More help is on the way to increase social connection and mental wellbeing support for senior residents in the Upper Clutha.
The Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group and The Champion for Older Persons Group have joined forces on a 12-month programme which supports active ageing, social participation and healthy lifestyles, and encourages seniors to feel connected and involved in the local community.
The programme will be funded by Te Hau Toka and delivered by The Champions for Older Persons Group. The collective includes Age Concern, Community Networks/LINK, St. John, Aspiring Enliven, Wānaka Medical Centre, Alzheimer’s Society, Volunteering South, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Food for Love, and older members of the community.
The funding will be used to support ongoing events like monthly lunches, independent living seminars, and the library’s digital drop-in sessions as well as one-off events like dinner/dance events and social outings which can be repeated if successful. It may also assist with scoping work on a senior-focused “playground” to help older residents maintain fitness and enhance mobility as they age.
Another key area of focus will be on increasing companionship and connection and growing the number of older people being visited. This will include expanding the home-based connection and support volunteer visiting service and building on other volunteer initiatives including Food for Love, Meals on Wheels, Age Concern, and the library “My Book Bag” service.
As the one-stop community support and connection service in the region, Community Networks/LINK Upper Clutha will co-ordinate the project, working collaboratively with the other service providers.
Manager Kate Murray welcomes the funding, saying it will enable the group to provide much-needed support in reconnecting seniors and helping them stay well.
“Our priority target group is those aged 65 and over. COVID has left a significant number of this age group feeling increasingly isolated, lonely, vulnerable, and anxious about venturing out while we have others who are already active in the community but are seeking more opportunities to engage.
“Initiatives are often limited because of financial constraints so with this funding we can better promote existing events and programmes as well as planning some great new events and activities - some in the person's own home, and some out in the community.
“Our aim is to create more opportunities for personal interaction, connection, enjoyment, learning and fun which will reduce loneliness and isolation. The net effect will be an improvement in older people's wellbeing, enabling them to stay happily in their own homes and feel connected with their communities.”
Te Hau Toka Southern Lakes Wellbeing Group Chair Adell Cox is really impressed by the shared vision and collaboration of The Champion for Older Persons Group, saying “it’s a wonderful initiative to help boost wellbeing opportunities and connections for seniors.”
Examples of current initiatives that may be supported or expanded within the programme include:
- St John monthly ‘Feel Good’ day with food and entertainment provided
- Age Concern monthly ‘Meet and Chat’ session with education on topics that encourage positive ageing
- Expand Food for Love delivery of meals to older people. A theme of Nourish to Flourish could be added, which would include a plant growing aspect and a chat
- Age Concern Accredited Visiting Service in the Upper Clutha area
- Digital drop-in sessions at Wānaka Library
- Community-led activities in Hāwea, including the Friendship & Support Group and senior-focused crafts and movie outings
- Dine and Dance events for seniors in Wānaka/Upper Clutha.