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Bush Compass connects isolated seniors

A LOW-TECH, highly-accessible McLean Care program is the centrepiece of the richly laden Seniors’ Festival over April 4-6.

Called Bush Compass, the now 12-month-old program enables remote senior residents from across the Northern Tablelands and a live link to community care activities at McLean.

“They run a class up at the gym, so all local people from the community go up to our gym, and then we Skype in our participants from the outlying areas, so they’re actually participating in that class,” McLean Community Care manager Gail Ting said. “We’ve got people at Mungindi, Tingha, Glen Innes, Delungra.”

She said it was about getting regional rural people to interact and participate.

“Basically there’s nothing for people that live on rural properties, they have to literally get in the car and access wellness and re-ablement exercise programs,” McLean chief executive officer Sue Thomson said.

“They don’t have to with this.”

She said the distance to access the community and programs to engage older resident could be discouraging and encourage social isolation, and Bush Compass offered a bridge to those residents.

“It’s not just the physical, it’s also the mental, it’s the socialisation; they’re interacting with a group of people,” Gail said.

“That’s a huge part of it,” McLean Retirement Services manager Robyn Dixon added.

The leader of the exercise session at McLean is able to view each person remotely participating in their homes.

Anybody of an eligible age can access the program, with the only cost a minimal fee for the sessions, and a cost of about $250 to equip and install the Skype machine access to the person’s television set.

McLean has also connected phone lines and handled the internet accessibility for residents whio keep the machine and may use it to stay connected to family and friends.

Gail said in its frist year, the program now has case studies, reflecting very positive, measureable outcomes with physical therapy tools.

The client went from an unsustainable need for two supporting adults to being able to stand themself with only one person to assist.

“So it’s been able to keep that person out of residential care,” Gail said.

“Very empowering,” Sue added.

She explained a further benefit to remote participants is the delivery of the correct physical exercise considering their health, such as type-2 diabetics.

Bush Compass was funded by the NSW Department of Family and Community Services and McLean, and is accessible to all seniors.

For more information, contact Gail Ting on 6721 7333.

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