NEW MODEL: Lively's newly launched home care service is working to build reciprocal relationships.
NEW MODEL: Lively's newly launched home care service is working to build reciprocal relationships. Lively

Mutual support and meaningful connections home care

THE team at Lively are young, enthusiastic and energised and ready to roll out their innovative intergenerational home-care service.

The management group of four in their early 30s, led by Lively founder Anna Donaldson, are bringing to the aged-care space a new model for delivering in-home support which is a fresh, youthful approach Ms Donaldson says is sometimes lacking in the industry.

"It's about young and older people coming together and supporting each other in an enthusiastic and energetic way on both sides, and recognising both young and older people can be lively and have a whole lot to contribute and offer," Ms Donaldson said.

The not-for-profit organisation has been operating in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane for about four years, offering technology help to 700 older Australians. Last month it expanded its operations, after running a pilot, launching its home-care service model in Melbourne.

The service is based on the Netherlands' Buurtzorg low-cost model which uses a local team of helpers who are established in a local community and work directly with people in that area with the autonomy to self-manage as a team, but supported by a central office. "Teams can then pop up anywhere around Australia in the near future rather than us growing to become a huge organisation," she said.

Ms Donaldson says the new business aims to address youth unemployment and underemployment while also tackling social isolation among older Australians, and the disconnection and ageism between the generations.

"We train and employ job seekers in the 18 to 25 age bracket to work with older people in their local communities, providing support and services that help older people maintain social connection and general wellbeing," she added.

Lively connects generations in meaningful way that benefits all involved.
Lively connects generations in meaningful way that benefits all involved. Lively

"Through the process we try to facilitate and encourage the formation of meaningful relationships and friendships between the older and younger people where they are learning from the older people's knowledge and experience, and breaking down some of the stereotypes, attitudes and preconceptions young people might have about older community members."

The young workers are selected based on their attitudes, values and mindset instead of just their qualifications.

Lively put them through an introductory course which Ms Donaldson says is about establishing an empathy and awareness of the people they will be working with.

"And (we do) some foundation work around their communication and interpersonal skills, and the skills they need to manage themselves in this environment," she said. "We give them a lot of autonomy to be connected with the older clients and work with them to self-manage how they work together and support each other.

"Through the training we impress on them the responsibility and expectations of their role."

This approach is an innovative way of creating a new entry point for young people moving into working in aged care. "It gives them an introduction to the sector and a sense of how rewarding it is, and build their motivation to take on more training and qualifications."

The services provided will be basic support that doesn't include personal care and support with mobility. The workers will be paid for doing simple tasks like gardening, shopping and jobs around the house The workers are paid through the Home Care Packages program. It's a two-way relationship where both generations value getting to know each other, Ms Donaldson says.

"We are trying to build reciprocal relationships where there is a sense of exchange," she said. "The older person is contributing to the younger person rather than just receiving care and support."


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