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Village & care operator Bolton Clarke supports regional seniors as it expands its HOW R U? peer support telephone service check in service

This is a great service that you may find useful as a concept – and if you are in Victoria or Mid North Coast of NSW.

How R U is a program that matches older people who may feel isolated with a volunteer who will call them weekly or twice weekly over 12 weeks, or until social and physical distancing restrictions are lifted.

It is being championed by leading Not For Profit operator Bolton Clarke. Principal Research Fellow Adj Prof Judy Lowthian said the program was based on a pilot she conducted in Melbourne with older people discharged from emergency departments and hospitals.

“We know the importance of social connection for wellbeing – particularly at the moment,” Adj Prof Lowthian said. “With COVID-19 people are not having as much social contact as they did before.”

Under the program, which is already operating in Victoria, Bolton Clarke will work with volunteer organisation Friends for Good to match older people with volunteers who have similar interests.

“They provide social contact and talk about news, hobbies and shared interests. What we found in our initial program is that people felt they could tell their volunteer things they couldn’t discuss with their family, because there was a degree of anonymity. After 12 weeks we found people were waiting for the call and we were able to reduce feelings of loneliness and depression and improve wellbeing.”

The program is being expanded to be available to older people in the Lake Macquarie, Port Macquarie and Tweed-Hastings local government (of NSW).

The project is funded under the NSW Government’s Combating Social Isolation for Seniors during COVID-19 Grant Program.

If you are a Village Manager in these areas and know of residents that may benefit from this service, reach out to 1300 22 11 22.