Social Connectedness Project Penrith & Blue Mountains
Improving Mental Health Support for Older People in Penrith and Blue Mountains
We believe that the social isolation and loneliness of older people in our region is significant, and further exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 climate.
In 2020 we commenced the Social Connections for Older People initiative in Penrith and Blue Mountains as a part of the Australian Government mental health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative aims to support older people who may be experiencing social isolation and/or loneliness by promoting connections to services and supports in order to improve their mental health and wellbeing.
If you would like to find out more about the Improving Social Connections for Older People Project or how you can become involved, contact the Project Officer on 02 4708 8100.
Who is Involved?
People at risk of, or who are already socially isolated can access support from a Health Connector. Health Connectors are trained practice nurses who work one-to-one with patients and carers, developing person-centred social network mapping, planning and goal setting. They act as a bridge between formal health care providers (GPs, aged care services) and informal care networks (families, neighbours, colleagues, social and support groups). They help people to develop their social support networks, especially those people who are isolated, vulnerable and at risk of ‘falling through the cracks’. This is a free service.
Practice nurses have so far completed the Health Connector training across seven general practices within Penrith and the Blue Mountains and will work with older people at risk of or who have mental health issues. You can find a list of Health Connectors through the MyHealthConnector directory:
The Social Connectedness project involves upskilling the community to be confident in identifying individuals who may be isolated, to have conversations around social isolation and to direct people to appropriate support. Community Connectors are members of the general population who know what services are available in the community and who then share that information with people in need. They form a living bridge that helps convey the word of what is available to those who are isolated.
Community Connectors can be of any background or profession – neighbours, volunteers, taxi drivers, baristas, retail workers. Anyone who has contact with older people and an interest in helping can volunteer. Over 30 Community Connectors have been trained in the Penrith region with further training available in the first half of 2021.
If you would like to be involved in a free training event, register your interest by contacting the Project Officer on 02 4708 8100.
The MyHealthConnector service directory was launched 2019, initially mapping Hawkesbury services only. However, interest from the region has grown this directory which is now being populated with services from right across the Nepean Blue Mountains region. Furthermore, organisations can now upload and update their own information using their own Provider Login. If you would like to add your services please register.