Social lives in the spotlight

A new information resource will be launched this week by NSW Minister for Ageing, Paul Lynch. The focus of the new resource is to highlight the importance of older people’s social networks.

‘Promoting Social Networks for Older People in Community Aged Care’ looks at how social contacts play a significant role in the health and wellbeing of older people and how a lack of them can lead to increased risk of depression.

The paper has been produced by The Benevolent Society and the Social Policy Research Centre and brings together existing research about older people’s social networks. The paper is presented in a concise and user-friendly way, to provide clear pointers towards good practice right across the community aged care sector. The aim is to give care workers practical strategies to help older people in their care remain socially engaged and able to participate in community activities.

Barbara Squires, The Benevolent Society’s General Manager, Ageing said it was vital that community aged care workers consider the social connections of older people and the role they can play in helping their clients make and maintain contacts with acquaintances, friends and relatives.

“Traditionally, community aged care workers help older people living at home with day to day tasks, such as showering and dressing, preparing meals, transport and shopping, nursing care and helping manage medications. We now need to recognise how important social relationships and community connections are as well; community aged care providers have found that 41 to 62% of new clients are depressed and 41% are lonely,” said Ms Squires.

The third briefing in the series will be released later in 2009. All briefings will be made freely available to care workers in hard copy format and on The Benevolent Society’s website.

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