From 9 to 90 is a new community engagement project initiated by Anglesea Medical. It uses letter writing to connect grade 3 and 4 students with older people in the community, and has been developed in conjunction with Anglesea Primary, Anglesea Aged Care, and the Anglesea Men’s Shed.
The current situation with the Coronavirus pandemic, coupled with Anglesea’s status as a rural area, has presented the community with unforeseen challenges when it comes to creating and maintaining meaningful community connections with older residents.
“We’ve had a number of older patients, particularly those that live alone, reporting that the impact of restrictions has been significant for them.” says practice owner Dr David Corbet. “Loneliness and social isolation have a huge impact on both physical and mental health, so we started to think about how we might support our community outside of the clinic.”
Similarly, there have also been challenges for children who are missing out on the social connection with older Australians that they once would have had from grandparents and other older family members.
Caroline Woodhams, receptionist at Anglesea Medical and key co-ordinator of From 9 to 90 reports that there are multiple benefits from this project. “The teachers at Anglesea Primary School were excited to use this project as a way to address literacy and community engagement components of their curriculum, and we’ve got the entire Grade 3 and 4 classes at Anglesea Primary learning about letter writing as well as the experiences of older people.”
“It has been really great to see how people react when we talk about it. They all love it!” Caroline says, and that even the talking about the project has stimulated people to think about what they will share. “There will be some guidance around topics, to give both age groups something to share and to learn about the differences between the experiences of children of different generations. Things like chores, and games and sport, but also school classes and pets.”
The team at Anglesea Medical also hope there is scope for this to grow, and if the initial 6 months is successful, that there is the ability to provide this as a model for other areas on the Surf Coast to pick up.
“We see this project as a way of allowing older and younger community members to engage positively with each other.” says Dr Corbet. “It encourages social connection and understanding, while also having the potential to reduce the negative impact of isolation. We’re really pleased to be able to contribute something more to the community.”
If you are interested in the project, please get in touch with Caroline Woodhams or practice manager Samantha Virgona via Anglesea Medical on firstname.lastname@example.org or 03 4215 6700