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Communities aim to combat social isolation for elderly

With social isolation being a real issue for some older people in New Zealand, organisations in Napier have come together to assist individuals and communities work towards solutions.

As a result of this collaboration, an online toolkit, Napier Connects, has been developed that offers simple steps for communities to combat social isolation and aims to strengthen the connections senior citizens have with their community.

"Napier’s approach is to support and create opportunities for people to connect as much as they want to," Napier City Council Community Planning Manager, Natasha Carswell says.

"The online guide, which can be found on the Napier City Council's website, shows how Napier has worked on the issue. Other communities or councils may want to use part or all of the toolkit in their work on this issue."

The project was instigated by the Minister of Senior Citizens in 2012. Napier was chosen for its supportive community leaders, proportion of people aged 65 years and over, and well-connected non-governmental organisation sector. It was brought to fruition by a steering group made up of representatives from a range of organisations with an interest in older people’s issues.

A local walking group, a digital seniors project and a garden makeover are just three ideas that have come out of Napier Connects so far.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said Napier Connects was a fantastic and practical way for people to help themselves. It will also complement the work the Council will be doing on a positive ageing strategy.

“Social isolation is an issue in every city and in Napier, rather than dwelling on the negative, we are focussing on getting people better connected.”

Minister for Senior Citizens Maggie Barry said identifying ways to reduce social isolation amongst seniors is high on her agenda.

“I would like to see more communities connect together around the issue of social isolation as Napier has done. I’ll be encouraging other communities to look at the Toolkit and I am hoping to roll out the Napier Connects approach to other regions around the country.”

To read more about the Napier Connects Toolkit click on this link. 

16 June 2015

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