The Art of Wellness: Connecting Launceston’s Ageing Bhutanese with their community

Dr Susan Aykut1, Ms Wendy Mitchell1

1Community Care Tasmania

In 2016 Community Care TASMANIA (CCT) initiated a three-year pilot program called Community Connections to improve the wellness of Launceston’s ageing Bhutanese community. Studies undertaken by CCT with this group found they felt socially isolated from their own and broader community. Few understood what services were available to them and most distrusted government agencies – especially in aged care that is traditionally a responsibility of family.  Our studies also highlighted a significant number of older Bhutanese people were experiencing deteriorating mental and physical health exacerbated by their social isolation, as well as from post-traumatic stress issues stemming from their long refugee status. As services provided within the aged homecare framework did not adequately address these issues, we decided to innovate. Our solution was to create a holistic, stake-holder driven program that built trust, was culturally appropriate, and bought older Bhutanese together and got them out into the community.

This presentation recognises that within our ageing society there is increasing diversity and that the services and care we provide need to reflect this diversity. It will walk others through the processes we undertook to deliver the Community Connections program, and why it was worth the effort.

Wendy Mitchell is General Manager of Community Care TASMANIA. Wendy has a Masters Degree in Environmental Management, and has specialised in change management and business improvement strategies for various organisations. She has worked with key government roles in planning and small business support and  is an independent director on a number of Tasmanian boards.

Susan Aykut is the Programs Coordinator at Community Care TASMANIA and coordinates the Community Connections program. Susan has extensive experience working on projects with CALD communities in a variety of community sector roles, as well as worked as an academic and professional historian.

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