Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) has been hailed as a leader in caring for culturally diverse seniors by the Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs.
Mr Hong Lim MP, member for Clayton, made the comment at the official opening of the VMCH Multicultural Wellness Centre (MWC) in Wantirna on April 5 to an audience of around 50 clients, staff and board members and community leaders.
The centre, which has been running exercise groups, education sessions and social outings for around 60 seniors since October, already has a waiting list for clients to join its Chinese and Filipino social groups.
“There is a high demand for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)-specific social support services for older people, especially with the significant growth of the older Chinese community in the eastern metro region,” said VMCH Lifestyle and Respite Services Operations Manager Angela Ng.
The Migrant Information Centre reports many older Chinese Australians have become frustrated by their inability to speak or read English and rely on their children for transportation and communication with service providers. They say the existence of senior support services can help to reduce their social isolation.
Mr Lim commended VMCH for establishing the Victorian-first centre and meeting a “great need” in the community.
VMCH Board Chair Bill Scales said one in eight older people with dementia did not speak English and were more comfortable with people from a similar cultural background.
“We need to address the serious misconception in society that all people from migrant backgrounds have a family who can care for them,” he said.
MWC client Geok Hwa Low (pictured right), 81, gave a moving insight into how the service has helped he and his wife, Geck Ming Tan, who has dementia.
“My wife’s mood has changed a lot (since we joined). She’s become happier and the quarrels between us have decreased,” he said.
Guests at the opening were also treated to cultural performances by a MWC Chinese group who sang “Jasmine Flower” in Mandarin, and an uplifting rendition of “How Great Thou Art” by the centre’s Filipino group.
The MWC accepts people over the age of 65 from CALD backgrounds living in Melbourne’s eastern region. Priority will be given to those who have dementia, a disability, who are frail aged and socially isolated.
For more information about the MWC call 0437 076 187.