Monday, 15 June 2015

Report on Ageing Session

MAY 31, 2015

Welshmans Reef Winery.
Attendance: 35
Apologies: Mayor Henderson

Bo Li  ( Darebin Councillor) - Ageing in Place
Ros Hart - Social Isolation
Michael Redden - Transport & Chairperson
David Stratton - Accessibility
Robin Jensen - District Nursing & HARP

A well attended and enthusiastic Rocket Science Session chaired by Clr. Michael Redden commenced with introductory thoughts from Michael to set the scene and welcome the panel of speakers. After the speakers’ presentation a lively discussion continued, many were concerned that more than talk was needed on such an important topic to all present - further action, meetings to focus on particular aspects of issues raised is required.
Positive outcomes:
  • Allie Dawe nominated as contact person for Affordable Accommodation Issues working group.
  • Clr. Michael Redden as President of Newstead Rural Transaction Centre offered to co-ordinate transport and volunteer resources.

Clr. Michael Redden - opening remarks.
Affordable Housing a real issue, but what is affordable housing?
Downsize to what?
Little recent development in the Shire for aged housing
Brendan Barrett has a proposal for a retirement village in Muckleford with 40 homes, 28 for sale and 12 to be subsidised - a proposal only.
Clr. Bronwen Machin has recently built her own 4 1/2 square home, livable & in a central location in Castlemaine.
Ros Hart - to talk on Carers and their support - who looks after the carer?
Role of new media to combat isolation.
Clr. Redden spoke of recent movies:”Still Alice” & “Iris” which deal with the process of dementia, he wonders what support is there for the sufferer and their family?
HACC - What is happening? What is the future? A real cause for concern, given recent changes where a consumer-based negotiated care package suggests increased costs and decrease in responsibility for funding from other levels of government over the next 2-3 years.The change in emphasis raises questions re packages, support.

Bo Li - Darebin Councillor and former Occupational Therapist worked with Allie Dawe on Active Ageing Advisory Board, Allie now lives in Newstead. Bo Li moved from OT to become a Health Policy Analysts and Government Adviser.
Ageing in Place explained - 3 levels:
1.Personal & Home : What  can be done to to make safer, secure accessible accommodation? Avoid falls
2. Community - safer streets for access for all, health services that is accessible locally, local services. Universal Design & the Anti-Discrimination Act ought guarantee access to all public places - ramps, sliding doors, but these rules do not apply to the domestic home.
Council has a role to ensure that buildings must be universally accessible to all -         wheelchairs and prams too, all needs must be considered. The problem is, that government regulations are too slow. In Darebin, there has been a surge in unit blocks development where the front of the multi-storey block is accessible, but once inside there are steps, stairs, showers have steps & narrow doors. A building that is properly designed from the outset will help people to be more independent; no need to relocate or rely on carers for access to a seamless, stepless shower. Poor design creates dependency - most people want to ‘age in place’ in their own home and community.

3.  Society - Where do we see Ageing? Ageism is common, the right support  services are not in place - transport, retirement age extended to 70. There needs to be a greater alignment between sectors - employment, aged care, education, U3A. The sectors now operate in silos. There needs to be a whole-of- government approach. The country needs to be run for all citizens, not just for the sake of the economy.  How do we work as a society to enable people to age in society, in place?
Community leaders and Council  can campaign for policy changes but a whole-of- society approach is needed. All of us have a role to play.

Ros Hart - Retired social worker and now full-time carer. Working in Daylesford in 2012 Ros saw many elderly people living alone, (65% of her clients aged 65+) concerns re health risks of social isolation. Problems such as: overuse of drugs, alcohol abuse, clinical depression, risk of heart disease, obesity, alzheimer’s increase  for the chronically isolated. Isolation is BAD. Keen to prevent the adverse effects of isolation Ros involved her partner, Dr David Stratton to “get these people onto the internet”. A partnership was formed  with Daylesford Neighbourhood Centre & Community Health with trained volunteers to bring surplus computers into the homes of her elderly clients. A great success as clients learned to Google, send emails to keep in touch with grandkids and scattered family.
Castlemaine Library “In Touch” program aims to reach out to people living alone or in  remote parts of the shire, who are unable to borrow books with classes on use of Ipads, social media, skype, ebooks. Ros Hart & Dave Stratton were involved as trainers in the use of 10 tablets over a ten week course. An 82 year old who had never touched a computer or used a keyboard was thrilled when her grandson bought her an IPAD and she sent her first email - no longer isolated.
Could volunteers be trained to teach people in their homes in Newstead to learn together, to reduce isolation? A Grant Applications writer is needed - Please!

Robin Jensen - Castlemaine Health HARP - Hospital Admission Risk Program
People with chronic conditions are offered support to reduce the frequency of their hospital visits, to help them understand what services they need, and offer follow up in their homes.
District Nurse Anyone can contact a district nurse, but usually a doctor or other health professionals make the referral.
Services provided: hygiene assessment, ulcers & wound care, blood collection, diabetes, antibiotics, oxygen use with the aim to keep people in their home for as long as possible. Some District Nurses are trained for palliative care.
Mens Sheds popping up around the Shire to play a role in reducing isolation.
The CEO of the Hospital (on top of the hill) is serious about listening to and responding to consumer feedback. Improvements to parking cited as an example of listening to concerns re inadequate parking close to facilities used by infirm and elderly.

Dr David Stratton - Accessibility Advocate, responsible for Accessible Newstead funded by Mount Alexander Shire.  W.H.O. promotes the concept of Accessible Towns, a town, place, community where everybody can do everything. The ramps into shops in Newstead is one aspect of making facilities accessible to all. David can now enter Newstead shops in his wheelchair. Work still to be done for vision impaired as part of an ongoing audit of access report. More projects to tackle - safe pedestrian crossing on busy highway is need for all in Newstead, not just the infirm and elderly.
Clr Redden commented on the campaign he mounted to have Mount Alexander Shire join the other 78 Councils in Victoria who have the 8ft building alignment rule that allows clear access for prams, wheelchairs on pavements. He plans to launch another campaign and have the rule enforced.
Newstead Community Bus is not used enough, can be more flexible with a door to door service, currently trips to Maryborough and Castlemaine. How do we make better use of this valuable service?

  • Allie Dawe - Bright Ideas Group - How to do things better? Reasonably new to Newstead. Downsizing is costly and disruptive, questions what sort of housing is currently being built to suit ageing in place - avoid internal steps, stairs, potential trip hazards.
  • eHealth ? what is the current status? Currently stalled development due to poor design. Enrolment on eHealth is not intuitive or user friendly, rival companies, so a common platform needed to allow multiple practitioners to join . Aim is to save time, drug allergies, & accidents by having each person’s full range of medical, dental, pharmaceutical records available to providers at a central database. Some GPs and other practitioners not keen to join. Medicare Office will assist in setting up an eHealth record.
Transport Issues:
  • Janet Trudgeon - Transport issues for making Drs appointment. Community Bus has a set schedule, she has difficulty stepping into bus, tricky timing appointments to coincide with bus schedule. A variety of transport options are needed
  • Robin Jensen - Red Cross Cars volunteer driver service is available in Castlemaine. GP organises Red Cross for specialist appointments in Bendigo. Non-Urgent Transport no longer available for Bendigo/Melbourne.
  • Don Culvenor suggested a ‘Newstead version of Uber’ David Stratton called it ‘Unter’ where volunteers could drive patients or offer lifts in a community wide network. Some people feel guilty/awkward asking for lifts or lack contacts who can offer assistance. A co-ordinator needed for volunteers, insurance, police checks etc.
  • Ros Hart - a whole of Newstead scheme is  needed, a fantastic approach for volunteer services.
  • LETs scheme suggest, where a bank of volunteer hours can be traded
  • Saide Gray suggested the need  for services to come to Newstead rather than so many being concentrated in Castlemaine/Maryborough. An outreach service is needed for smaller towns in the Shire. RTC could once again offer  a room for visiting professionals - to be followed up.
  • Taxi service available from Castlemaine offers a terrific service, ½ price subsidy.

Affordable Housing:
  • Don Culvenor spoke of the home Helen Watters designed for his mother in Panmure Street. Elderly people have a fear of change so living in place in Newstead is important. He plans to build more units on this site. Costs are high and the issue of what is affordable raised again, approximately $300,00 for a centrally located home of 10-11 squares is adequate, within walking distance of Dig Cafe. He would like feedback on what is needed.
  • Any aged housing needs to be affordable, centrally located and walking distance to town services.
  • Helen Watters reminded everyone of the lack of a planning scheme for Newstead. There is a need to vary lot sizes to allow higher density housing within the village of Newstead specifically for aged housing. What does Newstead need? A planning scheme that takes in all aspects of planning issues for Newstead to retain its character that makes it so attractive, don’t want Newstead to become a suburb of Castlemaine; ½ acre lots were common in Newstead, in 1998 Council amalgamations required for there to be a Planning Study for Newstead which never happened. Now, with sewage connected it ought to be possible to have a flexible approach. Redefine how Newstead should be, what shared places or commons do we value? New town  boundaries redrawn, , make it possible to subdivide down to 300 metres and still provide good liveable spaces in Newstead.
  • Standards required for housing to provide 1metre wide doorways to allow wheelchair & mobility aids access.
  • One lady spoke of her situation where she is now single, a pensioner with no super or large house to sell. There are many other women who simply can’t afford a $300,00 home. She has sustainably retrofitted a 5 square former school house ( ex Kyneton) that is cosy and cost under $100,00. An ideal lot size of 400sq. metres suits a small house.
  • Calls for: shared housing, micro housing, sharing gardens, working together, sharing space, living closer, co-housing. Home share where older people make unused space available to young people to share - mutual advantage.
  • Dave Stratton - Lot sizes need to be flexible. Dense housing for elderly that is affordable. He would like to see adaptable planning regulations for Newstead - grow old gracefully in Newstead.
  • 1997 Jill  Leisegang ran workshops Ageing in My Place based on the Abbeyfield model. Shared communal space and gardens with 2 bedroom units and a livein housekeeper. A Castlemaine based committee was set up and could now do with more support. Questionnaires from 1997 are available from Jill, could be possible to set up an Abbeyfield style housing in Newstead. Access to affordable land that is flat and central is essential. . Jill & Grace did a one year long study on AIMP for the City of Moreland in 1994/5. That report was launched by Brian Howe (former Federal Minister) who is still involved in social justice issues.
  • Allie Dawe nominated as the contact person for anyone wanting to become involved in affordable housing issues working group.
  • Michael Redden has a meeting scheduled with Council’s newly appointed Director of Sustainable Communities Vicky Mason. “ Vicky is responsible for delivery of Council's services which aim to strengthen the community and build the local economy. The Directorate supports community participation in sport, recreation and the arts and delivers services for older people, families and children, people with disabilities and young people. The Directorate provides tourism and events services, supports activities that assist in the growth of the local economy and leads Council's community engagement processes.”
  • RTC president, Michael Redden offered the RTC as the key contact for transport co-ordination initiatives - already handling police checks so well placed to lead the way for ‘Unter’ in Newstead.
  • Nick Hudson reminded us of the need for a skills or volunteers register - showing what people need or what they can offer - loading woodbox, starting a lawn mower. Hopefully a volunteer based at the RTC could fulfil this role in setting up a database that is kept current.
This final Rocket Science session ended then enthusiastic, eager conversations continued over delicious refreshments prepared by Anthony Santamaria.

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