Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jan-Feb 2013 Contents (from p50) improve their wellbeing while living at home.
This facilitated group program was therefore designed for older
adults who might want to make positive lifestyle changes to improve
their wellbeing but lack the support and motivation needed to follow
through. Overall, however, the goal was to help participants help
themselves to connect to their peers and the wider community.
The holistic program aimed to bring people together around a
common but non-stigmatising issue (wellbeing), and gave older
adults the opportunity to meet other people, learn more about
wellbeing and receive support.
Wise Up for Well Being was a fee-for-service therapeutic
model, which involved an eight-week intervention. This initiative
was only a pilot program. It was completed in May 2012.
Taskforce observations: Final research findings outlining the
project's longer-term benefits are still to be presented. But, it
was established that the intervention was supportive and thereby
enabled older people to take ownership of various aspects of their
lives, including social interaction.
The program, in turn, reduced the need or responsibility of
services or facilities to provide social inclusion programs later on. It
is believed that this program could be easily replicated and funded
on a larger scale.
2. OM:NI. Older Men: New Ideas. Men's Discussion
Groups, submitted by OM:NI and endorsed by COTA Victoria.
OM:NI: Men's Discussion Groups provide a safe place where
men meet, listen and share their knowledge and experiences.
Participation is by a gold coin donation to cover tea, coffee and
administration expenses. A topic of conversation is set prior to
each meeting and discussed on a set day.
These men's discussion groups hope to improve the overall
health of older men; encourage the development of meaningful
friendships; and enable older men to share their experiences,
knowledge and wisdom.
This program acknowledges that for many men, sitting around
a meeting table talking about a particular topic is a comfortable
space that promotes stimulating conversation and social
interaction. It's also suitable for men who are not interested in
woodwork or participating in a Men's Shed activity but still desire
Taskforce observations: While OM:NI's focus on men can
be seen as a limitation, anecdotal evidence suggests that
participation in OM:NI has flow on benefits for loved ones and
The program and the principles that guide it provide structure
and a code that promotes respect for each individual's contribution,
which can vary significantly. It was identified that this model
promotes and supports good mental health among a part of the
community that can often be at risk.
There are numerous OM:NI groups across metropolitan
Melbourne and Sydney, which shows the program can be replicated.
3. Eating with Friends (EWF), submitted by the Tasmanian
Association of Community Houses (see previous article, starting
p48, for details).
Social inclusion project manager for Benetas, Steve Power,
explains that the three projects were all chosen because of their
difference from each other.
"They represent the diversity of programs that can promote
social inclusion for older people," says Power.
"Wise Up for Well Being is a clinical model that is also a fee-for-
service product, which is interesting. It also explicitly outlines the
aim: to build capacity and confidence in older people to self-manage
their lives. The flow-on effect would be then, to enable older people
to improve their social networks.
"OM:NI maintains a targeted approach to promoting social
inclusion among older men, using an approach that relies on
structure and routine.
"And EWF is very much a community identified, organically
After some analysis of the three examples, the taskforce decided on
key elements, which make for a social inclusion program of choice:
• Effective programs can be quite simple.
• Self-managed interest groups should be allowed to form and
exist in isolation from the main group, like in EWF.
• Programs should be respectful of and aim to increase the
capacity of the participants.
• Financial considerations can be a significant factor especially
when combined with the cost of transport. While not always
possible, low cost offerings are successful but this does not
discount the benefit of financial investment in one's social future.
• Access and, in particular, the cost of transport is a common
and a very real obstacle when planning a social inclusion
event. Further consideration needs to be given to the logistics
of moving multiple people from various locations.
• Programs should blend the social component with an essential
activity of daily living - eating and exercise for example.
• Programs should aim to encourage intergenerational support
To join the social inclusion discussion or to find
out more on the taskforce, contact Benetas' social
inclusion coordinator, Steve Power, on email:
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