Connecting CALD seniors in Barwon

It is hoped a unique, new support group for culturally diverse seniors in Warrnambool will help reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing.

Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH) is encouraging seniors aged 65+ years from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds living in the Barwon South West Region to join its Multicultural Social Support Group on Fridays in Warrnambool.

The weekly meetings, including community outings, cultural events, exercise classes, bingo, games and singing, aim to link CALD seniors together and act as respite for those caring for a loved one with health conditions such as dementia, mobility issues, diabetes and depression.

VMCH Senior Case Manager Johanna Kirley said there was a “great need” to support CALD seniors in the local community.

“Some of the common challenges among seniors who have limited English skills include a lack of understanding of local laws, understanding what health support services are available and accessing transport. Research has shown that difficulty in accessing appropriate services, or receiving the correct advice and care, may lead to poorer health outcomes for older people.”

Johanna said carers in particular were at risk.

“The challenges of caring include financial strain, social isolation, balancing their own needs with those of the person they’re caring for, finding ways to take a break from their caring role, and maintaining their own physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

“We want to provide members with the opportunity to form friendships, connect with their community and feel a sense of belonging.”

According to the 2017 Census, of the 706 households in Warrnambool where a non-English language is spoken, almost half (314) speak Mandarin.

A Chinese/Mandarin-speaking translator will be on hand at each session to assist with communication.

“Although the group has initially been set up to meet the needs of the older Chinese community, the group is open to all multicultural backgrounds and we look forward to an exchange of learning, with activities to promote appreciation of all cultures.”

A free Open Day will be held from 10am to 3pm on Friday, December 15 at the Archie Graham Community Centre, 118 Timor St, Warrnambool.

For information about group eligibility and cost, please call VMCH on 1300 971 720.

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