'Circles' to support older Australians

Wednesday, 03 August, 2022

'Circles' to support older Australians

Community Circles Australia, officially launched at the Arthouse Hotel in Sydney this August, aims to build caring communities around older individuals who need a little extra help and company in their daily lives.

The program, an initiative of Touched By Olivia Foundation (who have built over 40 inclusive playgrounds in communities across Australia), is modelled on the Community Circles UK model founded by Helen Sanderson MBE, who travelled to Australia with her trustees to launch the new initiative.

Meredith Coote, General Manager Community Circles Australia, said the program aimed to make a difference on a range of fronts related to the care sector.

“Community Circles recognises the need to ‘do support differently’ and provides a solution for care economy challenges in aged care, disability and mental health highlighted by both Royal Commissions, the need to make the NDIS more sustainable and aged care more accessible to those who need it,” Coote said.

The program aims to help people live in their own homes longer and reduce dependence on scarce paid services by bringing paid and unpaid assets together. This helps people live in the place of their choosing, creates communities where people look out for each other and enables people to do things that matter to them.

“From its inception here, Community Circles Australia has gained increasing interest and endorsement from government, academics, peak bodies, aged care, disability and mental health providers as well as community members,” Coote said.

The model is currently being trialled in several Australian locations.

A trained facilitator helps build a circle of support around a person, critically scaffolding and filling gaps in their life with local unpaid family, friends and community members who connect to, for example, go to church or a club, cook and eat a meal, go shopping, or just provide for each other.

“These services are currently often paid for out of limited home care packages and NDIS funding which can then be utilised for more complex services or when there is no one else available,” Coote said.

There is also a Community Circles app which is designed for the person at the centre of the circle to support the Circle members.

The initiative is said to facilitate:

Better use of funding: Ensures funding resources are better used. The right person with the right skills is involved in the right way and linked with everyone else.

Better use of human resources: Provides access to additional relationship-based resources, providing person-centred paid and unpaid support, enabling people to live their best lives.

Increased natural safeguards: Provides increased safeguards. More ‘noticing’ and reporting on concerns, changing circumstances, neglect or abuse.

Improved person-centred practice, choice and control. Aligns with and supports the delivery of the principles outlined in both the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety report and the current findings of the Disability Royal Commission.

Improved quality and safety. Enhances organisational compliance by providing end-to-end visibility over continuity of care for a person regardless of service delivery model.

SkillsIQ sponsored the launch event as they believe there are significant opportunities in the innovative support model and training program attached to seed the future sector workforce that ‘starts with the heart’ and the right values and that this is the way to build compassionate, informed communities.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Cienpies Design

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