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|Day Presenting||Tuesday 30 October|
|Session||Concurrent C3- Quality and Best Practice|
|Presentation Title||Promoting ‘engagement with life’ and addressing social isolation among older people.|
|Position Title||Project Manager, Social Planning|
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Interventions to reduce social isolation among older people are widely advocated, however there is a need to refine the way we understand the relationship between social isolation, loneliness and the effectiveness of interventions which aim to address these issues. Mitigating the adverse effects of social isolation is more complex than providing ‘off-the-shelf’ programs to spend time with peers, volunteers and/or support workers and, while a community engagement approach is a valuable foundation, it is important to better understand how personal experiences of ‘being alone’ may be mediated. For example, this implies considering those personal and/or solitary dimensions of engagement which are positively associated with psychosocial benefits, such as reading or listening to music. To this extent, the concept of ‘engagement with life’ (EWL) – a key aspect of successful ageing – presents the opportunity to look at social isolation in a more conceptually inclusive way, encompassing the whole sense of wellbeing that people can derive from ‘being engaged’, be it with others or with meaningful solitary activities. This has both theoretical and practical implications, and it can be useful to inform the design of interventions. In this framework, ECH collaborates with local communities to provide opportunities for older people to remain engaged with life and to maintain strong connections with their neighbourhoods. An important enabling factor of this strategy is the establishment of all ages-friendly ‘neighbourhood nodes’, where local community members can get together in a relaxed and non-judgemental environment, inform and participate in local community activities, and generally connect with their neighbourhood in a personal and empowering way. An example of this is the establishment of The Pear Café in Alberton (SA), the first South Australian all ages-friendly neighbourhood node. The Pear, which is run in collaboration with local residents in an under-utilised building in the centre of Alberton, aims to activate, connect and complement the neighbourhood through inclusive and free social initiatives informed by and co-developed with the community itself. Following loosely themes related to food, gardening, art and culture, it offers older local community members daily opportunities for social support, social participation, social connectedness, volunteering and intergenerational collaboration across a varied and flexible roster of locally-responsive programs and activities that act as a catalyst for broader and further engagement.
Edoardo Rosso is the Project Manager Social Planning at ECH Inc, South Australia’s largest provider of retirement living and support services for older people. Edoardo is a cross-disciplinary professional with a strong background in social sciences and over ten years of experience in the generation of social capital, social inclusion/exclusion, community development and social development. Edoardo holds a PhD in Social Geography and is passionate about promoting independence and self-determination for people of all ages.