Community networks and connections are often under recognised and are rarely utilised to their full potential. For older people living at home and in aged care, it is important to avoid feelings of loneliness, which can have a significant impact on physical and mental health.
Being connected, having a positive identity and continuing to contribute to the fabric of society are all essential to healthy ageing, increased life expectancy and overall life satisfaction.
Connecting communities: the 10K Project
Imagine if a residential aged care facility transformed from just a place of care into a community hub, where relationships and inter-generational social networks could thrive. This is the simple but visionary idea that started the 10K Project, a unique wellbeing program that brings community networks to life
The 10K Project started as a joint initiative between Southern Cross Care (NSW & ACT), Groundswell, and Western Sydney University. Through this collaboration they were able to develop a better network of care that gets the whole community involved in caring for each other.
This is a wellbeing program that focuses on relationship building, not just activities. It works against social isolation, and creates greater community engagement and involvement.
The project began by putting a Southern Cross Care aged care home in the centre, working to engage with all of the resources and networks within a 10-kilometre radius of the home. By getting to know the residents and understanding their life stories, they were able to link them to the appropriate community group that will engage them and add greater meaning to their lives.
Local communities were engaged to share ideas, learn from each other and grow strong together, and there was a strong sense that they wanted to be more tightly knit to shift the neighbourhood into a thriving society of connections, friendships, innovation, and collective responsibility.
Changing neighbourhoods long-term
Through 10K Project, Southern Cross Care developed an active, connected and engaged aged care environment. They created a great neighbourhood feeling within their aged care homes, with doors open for members of the community, family or friends to join in for coffee or attend a class.
The 10K Project builds community partnerships and connections, developing community capacity for caring, which is fundamental to innovative service models in ageing. Southern Cross Care now has a range of partners from art galleries and schools, to local boutique shops and universities.
A community approach to ageing moves the social and collective responsibility for our ageing population and requires a re-imagination of aged care services and communities. This social approach emphasises the central role of human connections in our continued wellbeing.
Making ageing everyone’s business
The work behind undertaken by Southern Cross Care is changing society’s notion of ageing and challenging the community’s role in helping older people live fulfilling lives. The key to building connected communities is to make ageing everyone’s business. The community groups were incredibly engaged and willing to support each other.
For more information, please visit www.sccliving.org.au