Meeting the health needs of older adults in public housing

Meeting the health needs of older adults in public housing

Isolated older adults have limited access to health resources and services. Merri Outreach Support Service is working alongside isolated older adults in public housing to meet their health and wellbeing needs.

Merri Outreach Support Service supports older people who are homeless or are at risk of homelessness and deliver low cost accommodation support to older tenants who reside in public housing in the inner northern metro region of Melbourne. Support workers have identified that older tenants often have issues communicating with medical professionals, have difficulties attending appointments and have health needs that are poorly managed.

Through outreach activities at a housing estate, tenants have expressed their lack of access to preventative health information and health services and a fear for their personal safety and social isolation.

To start to address these issues the tenants are now being supported to participate in health screening, such as breast screening, and to attend appointments with a general practitioner. A volunteer-led safety program has also commenced.

Another way to address the needs of the tenants it to take the information to them - an engaging information session was conducted at the housing estate in partnership with a Neuropsychologist specialising in gerontology and the impacts of ageing on the brain. An interested tenant group participated in an easy to understand session on strategies to maintain brain health. The session covered how to keep your brain healthy, warning signs to look out for, myths on memory issues, and different types of Dementia and how to identify normal memory loss from Dementia.

The tenants who attended the session found it invaluable and informative and requested another workshop on managing the emotional and psychological issues of ageing.

Partnerships with public housing services are an important way of starting to meet the health and wellbeing needs of isolated older adults. Through the various outreach activities that are delivered at the housing estate, the residents who attend identify areas that they would like some further information about and then Merri Outreach Support Services arranges guest speakers to present to the group in a comfortable and relaxed setting.

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