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Older person health

Program aims to assist refugee and migrant populations to live and age well

01 November 2023

The Australian Government highlighted the themes of “respect, care and dignity for senior Australians” in its response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (2021).

The needs assessment for the project reported in April 2022, the SWSPHN Healthy Ageing Co-design Report, indicated the greatest need was among older people from migrant and refugee backgrounds. 

With this in mind, SWSPHN has commissioned Grand Pacific Health (GPH) to develop and run healthy ageing education programs for older people, and specifically refugee and migrant populations, in South Western Sydney.

Healthy Ageing at Home (HAAH) is a community-based program designed to assist older individuals in Fairfield and parts of Liverpool to live independently and age well.

Arabic-speaking and Vietnamese communities are being targeted in the program’s inaugural rollout. Once established, other language groups will be identified. 

The program aims to reduce the physical and social isolation experienced by older individuals living in South Western Sydney.

HAAH incorporates social activities and connections to health services, health literacy and social support networks.

It also facilitates access to health professionals such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and nutritionists, who can provide advice and support to older people living in the community.

While care and support of the ageing is the priority of the program, another objective is to reduce pressure on hospital systems and residential aged care homes (RACHs) in the long term.

The program will educate in three ways:

  • Directly to older people in face-to-face sessions
  • Directly to community organisations so they can support older people in the community to stay at home
  • Online to family and carers so they can support older people in the community to stay at home

Informational workshops started at the end of September and will continue until June 2025.

They will be delivered face-to-face and in language for older people and online for family and carers.

GPH delivered eight co-design workshops, for Arabic-speaking and Vietnamese communities in the Fairfield and Liverpool areas from May to July this year.

The workshops were delivered with assistance from bilingual educators, and engaged 96 participants, including aged individuals, carers and families, who identified their unique needs and challenges.

The feedback informed the basis of HAAH program activities.

Themes highlighted at the GPH co-design workshops included:

  • My Aged Care – navigation and access to Commonwealth Home Support Services
  • Mental and emotional health, including trauma-informed care
  • Chronic disease – early intervention activities
  • Finding community resources in your neighbourhood
  • Informing health providers of culturally appropriate practices
  • Health literacy – general

GPH’s program staff reported feedback from the co-design workshops was “profound and humbling” and that services had been lacking previously. The information from these sessions, especially around trauma and health literacy, will be used to support information sessions into the future.

An innovative train the trainer version for the HAAH program’s key community groups is also being rolled out at the same time, to empower those groups to help their community and work collaboratively with English-speaking health service providers.

According to the World Health Organization, healthy ageing is the process of developing and maintaining the functional ability which enables wellbeing in older age.

Functional ability is broken down into five parts and is defined as the ability to:

  • Meet basic needs
  • Learn, grow and make decisions
  • Be mobile
  • Build and maintain relationships
  • Contribute to society

Visit Grand Pacific Health’s website to find out more.