Imagine being the primary carer for a child with multiple disabilities and a parent with dementia. This was the situation Sam* found himself in. As he struggled to support his family, he became increasingly socially isolated, physically unwell, and began to experience suicidal ideation.
Sam is one of 66 adults who, in the past six months, have been referred to Baptist Care SA, a Community Partner of the Community Connections program, to work towards addressing barriers which prevent them from connecting with their community.
Staff worked with urgency and sensitivity to stabilise Sam’s situation. He was immediately linked to mental health and counselling services, as well as crisis support.
Once he felt ready and able to connect with the wider community, he was encouraged and helped to pursue his interests and hobbies. Sam joined a local chess club where he has made several new friends. Although his physical health is still poor, he’s feeling much more positive about the future.
Staff are continuing to support him in applying for domestic aid through the Community Connections Care Partner, RDNS (Royal District Nursing Service).
By helping Sam and others like him to build their capacity to self-advocate and seek out and connect to services, they can lead healthier, happier lives.
The link between mental and physical health and the strength of a person’s social networks is well known. Community Connections supports isolated adults between 18-64 years (or 18-49 for Aboriginal peoples) who are not receiving NDIS or My Aged Care support, to connect to community activities, groups, and volunteer opportunities.
Many of the referrals have been received from hospitals, mental health services and local health networks.
Staff work closely with other organisations under the Community Connections program model to support participants in ways that are both flexible and creative.
Many participants are living with complex challenges relating to mental health, domestic violence, trauma, financial disadvantage and/or disability, which have increased their isolation. In the first six months, 55% of participants progressed towards, and a further 36% fully achieved, their goals, while 45% became more socially connected.
The program won the Department of Human Services’ Most Innovative Program Award in 2021.
For more information about Community Connections, please visit: baptistcaresa.org.au/community-connections
This program is funded by the Department of Human Services.
*not his real name