Over one in seven Australians are aged 65 or older. We help people choose the accommodation, lifestyle services and level of care they need to live the life they want. Whether that’s moving into retirement living or aged care, receiving a helping hand around the house to remain living safely and comfortably in their own home or learning new skills in a supportive and stimulating environment.
Expanding mental health support for older people
Transitioning to retirement can involve loss of independence and familiar community connections, which can result in feelings of grief and isolation.
Residents from Wesley Mission’s retirement villages positively engaged to one–on–one counselling with a mental health specialist. In response to this growing need, we’ve employed a second mental health specialist to continue our flourishing mental health work in Wesley Retirement Villages.
Along with one–on–one counselling support, in November 2018 we launched mindfulness and psychoeducation groups at Alan Walker Village, Frank Vickery Village and Wesley Taylor Village. On average six to eight residents participate in the monthly groups and we’re seeing residents build connections and learn new skills which enhances their confidence and overall wellbeing.
We’re strengthening our Wesley Retirement Villages staff to be equipped to support residents with their mental health. Our mental health specialist has delivered mental health training for 25 staff members, 19 Wesley School for Seniors students and 17 community members.
Brightening futures with laughter
Partnering with the Humour Foundation, elder clowns have brought joy into the lives of residents from Wesley Retirement Villages. For residents who are diagnosed with dementia or don’t have regular outside visitors, the elder clowns connect with residents through song and magic tricks to lift their mental health. The success of the program has seen non–responsive residents crack a smile or burst into laughter.
Partially funded by Rotary Club of Sydney, we also partnered with the Humour Foundation to produce three short video clips to talk about mental health, tackle cyberbullying and teach online safety practices to young people aged five to 11. Using entertaining clown doctors, the videos implement humour to open up conversations around understanding emotions and developing resilience when using the internet and sending text messages. The educational videos were shown throughout Wesley Out of School Hours, before and after school and vacation care centres and Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks.
A lasting tribute to Wesley Retirement Living residents
We’re continually improving the wellbeing of our Wesley Retirement Living residents. Together with Collaroy Plateau Public School and Pacific Hills Christian School, primary school-aged students interviewed residents from Wesley Taylor Narrabeen and Wesley Tebbutt Dundas on camera. Titled Tell Your Story, the student interviews were combined to produce one film to create a lasting tribute to the lives of our residents.
50 years focused on seniors’ wellbeing
This year we celebrated 50 years of running Wesley School for Seniors, a program which offers relaxed learning opportunities for over 55–year–olds. Since 1969, we’ve offered a range of educational and recreational courses that focus on the physical, social, intellectual and spiritual needs of seniors in the wider Sydney community. Not only do the classes offer seniors new skills but the opportunity to develop friendships and reduce social isolation.
Currently, we have 450 students in our 101 city classes and 92 volunteers who support the running of the school. Wesley School for Seniors also offers courses at Alan Walker Village in Carlingford with 18 students enrolled in 11 classes and eight volunteers.
As part of our 50th celebrations in June we also honoured our long–serving volunteer tutors for increasing the wellbeing of seniors through their classes.
“In a powerful way, volunteering helps to create the kind of community that we all want to be a part of and to experience meaning and fulfillment in new ways.”
Centralised roster centre supports more people in need
Wesley Mission clients receiving home care and disability services are benefiting from a new roster centre. Our centralised rostering hub places our people at the forefront to ensure they receive stable and reliable services.
We offer home care for older people and those transitioning out of hospital. We also care for people with disability at both an individual level and within group homes. Our clients live in regional, suburban and urban areas across NSW, from the Mid–North Coast, Hunter region and Central Coast to North Sydney and CBD to Western Sydney and out to the Blue Mountains, along with southern Sydney and down to the Illawarra.
Prior to the roster centre, Wesley Mission staff were spread across five sites. Now located at one site in Blacktown, our rostering process is streamlined, allowing us to offer support to more clients in a shorter timeframe.
Bringing 17 staff together under one roof has enabled the workload to be shared amongst our 500 accessible care workers. If a care worker is unavailable, we can now engage a care worker from a different geographic region. By sharing the workload with neighbouring regions, we hope to reduce our reliance on external sub-contractors.
“The benefits for the staff being in one place is to have that sense of team,” said Leigh, Business Admin Team Leader, Wesley Home & Residential Care.
Research and continued academic rigour to ensure outcomes
It is important to Wesley Mission not only to be doing all the good we can, but to ensure that we’re investing into those activities that achieve the greatest impact. Research and partnering with leading institutions is an important aspect of validating and continuously improving our programs.
A partnership with Western Sydney University to research mental health in older people is underway. The research will pave the way for more resources to be poured into supporting older people struggling with poor mental health.
We’ve launched a new research project with Melbourne University to evaluate Wesley LifeForce Suicide Prevention Networks and the results will be released in the 2019/20 financial year.
Expanding our care in clinical services and retirement living
Our five-year strategic plan to June 2021 includes reviewing clinical facilities at Wesley Hospital Kogarah to increase the number of beds on offer, providing us with more opportunities to deliver world–class mental health care. We’re also exploring how we can meet the increasing needs of our ageing population in retirement by expanding our independent living units.
By investing into our infrastructure, Wesley Mission seeks not only to increase our capacity to adapt to the changing needs we see in our community, but to be better positioned to meet the totality of need for each individual client.