Our Social Support Program provides support, education, information, referral and assistance to seniors who reside in the Northern Beaches Local Government Area. We are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.
We aim to provide support and information which assists seniors to better maintain social connections, their general health and wellbeing in a friendly, respectful and welcoming environment.
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We provide support for seniors in a number of ways:
- Monthly group meetings which provide information and the opportunity to meet others in similar situations in a relaxed, caring and friendly environment;
- Carer support group meetings;
- Education, workshops and courses including:
- advanced planning;
- dementia and memory loss;
- grief and loss;
- residential care, hostel and nursing homes;
- legal and financial workshops; and
- information on carers' rights and responsibilities;
- Information and support for individual seniors;
- Bus outings and social outings; and
- A quarterly newsletter.
We also provide seniors with additional support such as advocacy and making representations on behalf of individuals or groups.
We can also arrange for individual counselling.
Strong connections with other people is highly important. Maintaining or making new connections with family, friends and the community provides happiness, security, support and a sense of purpose. Research shows that being connected to others is important for our mental wellbeing and can help protect against anxiety, depression and dementia. Having meaningful contact with other people and being part of a supportive community can help you feel more positive and decrease feelings of loneliness.
Major lifestyle changes and changes in your personal situation later in life can have a significant effect on social connections and result in feelings of loneliness.
Examples of these types of transitions and losses include:
- becoming a carer for a family member;
- retirement, redundancy or unplanned retirement;
- decreased independence for reasons including: loss of driving licence, health conditions, limited transport, concerns for safety or security;
- moving house; or
- loss of a partner, relative or close friend.
Many seniors also provide care for family members or friends; they may support adults or children who have a chronic condition, terminal illness, are aged or frail or who have a disability, mental illness, dementia/memory loss, drug and/or alcohol dependencdy. The caring role can result in significant social isolation and feelings of grief and loss.
Seniors from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds are at particular risk of social isolation. They may have greater difficulty accessing information services due to language and cultural barriers, and because culturally-responsive services may not be readily available. Stigma given to people with a disability or mental illness is common in many CALD communities and it may inhibit seniors from accessing services and support.
Our monthly group meetings encourage seniors to come together to discuss their situation, socialise, share information and experiences, and offer each other support. The groups offer seniors the opportunity to talk about their situation and make social connections. Group are facilitated by Community Connect employees and may include a presentation from a guest speaker or discussion about a particular topic.
A number of general groups are held. Some groups are focussed, providing more targeted support for seniors with specific needs, including those caring for someone with dementia, a disability, mental health or chronic condition.
- Mental Health Dee Why - 1st Wednesday of month, 1pm - 3pm
- General Warriewood - 3rd Monday of month, 10am - 12 noon
- General Dee Why - 3rd Thursday of month, 1pm - 3pm
- Dementia Warriewood - Last Monday of month, 10am - 12 noon
- Dementia Dee Why - Last Thursday of month, 10am - 12 noon
We also run group meetings for a number of CALD groups including:
- Serbian - Dee Why - Last Wednesday of the month, 1pm to 3pm
- Chinese (Mandarin) - Dee Why - Third Thursday of the month, 10am to 12 noon
- Spanish - Dee Why - Second Thursday of the month, 10am to 12 noon
- Italian - Dee Why - Second Tuesday of the month, 10am to 12 noon
- Croatian - Warriewood - First Thursday of the month, 10am to 12 noon
The Social Support Program Manager will discuss your needs and availability and determine which group or groups may be suitable.
Why are Support Groups important?
Creating a sense of connectedness to other people and your local community, and of belonging, is an important tool to reduce social isolation for many older people.
Research has found that joining group activities can be particularly effective at reducing and protecting against loneliness. Having regular conversations with other people is an important way of staying connected. Our group meetings provide opportunities to talk to interesting people, share your experiences and make new friends in a supportive environment.
What are group meetings like?
Often the best information is gathered through experience and sharing. Members are encouraged to discuss their personal experiences, which can be greatly beneficial for others in the group and for the facilitator as well. Some topics for discussion include:
- Activities, services, doctors, care providers, associations etc. that have programs tailored to seniors;
- Life experience;
- Constructive ways to spend time;
- Ways to relieve stress and anxiety and ways to relax (such as meditation);
- Ways to deal with difficult situations;
- Resources which have been found to be useful such as videos, books, websites etc; or
- Any other information that might be useful to others in the group.
To provide up-to-date information about services, health and ageing, there will be guest speakers coming in to talk to groups about their area of expertise. Guest speakers could include:
- Community health workers;
- A local Council, My Aged Care or Commonwealth Home Support Program worker to explain relevant services and programs;
- A Carers NSW representative or someone from a relevant organisation to talk about what their association does;
- A doctor or pharmacist to discuss illnesses and medication;
- Local service providers;
- A Centrelink worker to explain financial assistance available for seniors; or
- A psychologist to talk about behavioural issues.
Outing to Hyde Park Barracks
Serbian group outing to Akuna Bay