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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

New social program aiming to build ‘circles of support’ around vulnerable people

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A new national charity that builds “circles of support” around older Australians, people with disability and mental health conditions, is set to reduce loneliness while easing the burden on strained government care budgets.

Community Circles Australia, to be officially launched on August 2 at the Arthouse Hotel in Sydney, aims to build caring communities around older individuals who need a little extra help and company in their daily lives.

‘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, to make the NDIS more sustainable and Aged Care more accessible to those who need it.

General manager of Community Circles Australia, Meredith Coote

Robert Fitzgerald, NSW Ageing and Disability Commissioner, will open the event.

The program, an initiative of Touched By Olivia Foundation (who have built more than 40 inclusive playgrounds in communities across Australia), is modelled on the successful 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 of 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, to make the NDIS more sustainable and Aged Care more accessible to those who need it,” Coote said.

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, for example, go to church or a club, cook and eat a meal, go shopping, or just provide for each other.

Meredith Coote

“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.”

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, 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.

Relationships are the foundation of good lives and Community Circles helps build and sustain connections, support carers, scaffold limited paid support and engage all the community and relationship capital available for people to create better, more connected lives.

Meredith Coote

Community Circles 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.

“Relationships are the foundation of good lives and Community Circles helps build and sustain connections, support carers, scaffold limited paid support and engage all the community and relationship capital available for people to create better, more connected lives,” Coote said.

Community Circles ensures:

  • Better use of funding. Ensures funding resources are better utilised. 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.

The launch event has been sponsored by SkillsIQ 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.

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