Hand to Heart breaking the barriers of isolation for older people

A pilot community program called Hand to Heart has officially launched in the City of Melville, assisting older people experiencing isolation to reconnect with their local community.

Coordinated by ConnectGroups in Melville, Hand to Heart encourages community members and groups who identify a socially isolated older person to refer them to the service, and

ConnectGroups volunteers can then support the older person by connecting them to relevant activities, services and interests to help improve their quality of life.

City of Melville Mayor Russell Aubrey said the Hand to Heart project was developed in response to data indicating an increasing number of older people are living alone.

“With 25 percent of the City’s residents aged over 60, many have been impacted by the loss of a spouse, had their lives changed due to injury or ill health, or for those coming from a culturally diverse background may experience barriers that leave them vulnerable to social isolation and a reduced quality of life,’ said Mayor Aubrey.

“We are encouraging the community to keep an eye-out for older people who may be experiencing loneliness - be it a neighbour, friend, family member or customer – to reach out and let them know about Hand to Heart.”

“With their permission you can then make a referral to ConnectGroups for a trained volunteer to contact them and discuss the various services and activities available in the area that may be of interest to them and reconnect them to the community.”

Volunteers have been trained to identify the level of support required, from phone-based information sharing to home visits and transport assistance, to empowering the older person to reconnect with community life.

The project is funded by a Department of Communities Age-Friendly Communities Innovative Implementation Grant and is guided by a steering group including experts in the fields of older adult mental health, pharmacists, GP’s and agencies that work with culturally diverse groups.

City of Melville rangers and community safety officers, as well as external groups such as Meals on Wheels and Neighbourhood Watch also support the program in the community by helping to identify residents who may benefit from the Hand to Heart program.

To find out more or join an online conversation visit  www.melvilletalks.com.au/hand-heart

If you know someone who may benefit from the service, contact the friendly volunteer team at ConnectGroups on 9364 6909 or email info@connectgroups.org.au.