The Hand to Heart project for older residents living in the City of Melville who have discovered they would like more from their retirement years is a community based version of what the UK is describing as Social Prescribing.
Outlined in the UK Governments recent Loneliness Strategy, Social Perscribing could find patients enrolled in a dance class and singing lessons or enjoying a personalised music playlist. The medical benefits have been recorded in various projects across the UK and Canada and is intended to complement rather than replace more traditional forms of treatment.
In the City of Melville a relative, friend, neighbour, GP, Pharmacist or the older person themselves can refer to the Hand to Heart program run by community organisation; ConnectGroups. A trained volunteer will make a number of home visits over a few weeks and after getting to know the person, assisting them or going away and doing some behind the scenes research they link them into groups, activities or services that best suit that person to support them to live a richer and more fulfilling life.
City of Melville received funding from the State Government, Department of Communities Age-Friendly Communities funds in 2017 and contracted ConnectGroups and Befriend to manage the project. Many older people have participated over the last 18 months and the volunteers involved also report having increased the fulfilment in their lives so it’s a win win for everyone.
If you know of an older person, or you yourself are looking to get more out of life contact ConnectGroups on 9364 6909 or for more information visit www.melvilletalks.com.au/hand-heart
Read more about the Social Perscribing initiative in the UK.