Care and compassion Health People

Happy Wanderers tackle isolation and loneliness

Three of the Happy Wanderers, from left, Richard, Annette and Barbara

Isolation and loneliness among older people in the Hutt Valley is now under threat, thanks to a new programme created by Wesley Community Action.

It’s grown out of the organisation’s experience in running the former Wesleyhaven Resthome and Hospital on the hills above the Lower Hutt suburb of Naenae.

The first Ageing Well group was a mix of people living in the self-contained villas at Wesleyhaven – which is now called Wesley Rātā Village – and others referred to the organisation through its networks.

For 10 weeks they took part in weekly trips away or hosted visiting speakers. They also prepared a shared lunch each week.

The Happy Wanderers make a shared lunch

At the end of the series they began meeting at Wesley Rātā Village for coffee two afternoons a month.

The second group, who named themselves the Happy Wanderers, are finishing their 10-week series and will then join the coffee group. All are retired and most live alone.

When the Daily Encourager visited them recently they were enthusiastic about their experience.

Dragged out of despair

One, whose mobility is affected by Parkinson’s, said,

It had dragged me out of dark despair and isolation.”

During the day her husband and neighbours were away at work, making life at home very lonely.

Several of the group have health challenges that affect their mobility.

Trips in the Wesley van to places such as the Wellington Botanic Gardens and Oriental Bay were the most popular activity and these were much more enjoyable in the company of others. Other activities were word and card games and visits by guest speakers, including the Lower Hutt group, Kitten Inn.

Volunteers, Jordan and Daphine, when a representative from Kitten Inn visited

Some of the group have family living locally and some do not.

One described the group as a community of people who care.

Other participants included a woman who had moved into the area and knew no-one.

One woman said it was important to get people to realise we still are people.

“People with feelings and emotions who can’t do everything they once could but [they] still deserve the respect others get,” she added.

Another said she was dealing with delayed depression following the death of her parents. While she was busy working she hadn’t come to terms with their loss, but the reality set in after she retired.

Learning from sharing experiences

One of the men said the group learned from sharing each other’s experiences.

Co-ordinating the group is Tracey Scott. She was previously a diversional therapist at Wesleyhaven.

Tracey says several of the group now phone each other on a regular basis to check how they are.

The Ageing Well programme is part of Wesley Community Action’s wider vision of better supporting people to age well in their communities.

Staff member, Isabel, with Rita and Richard

It builds on the experience gained from running Wesleyhaven Resthome and Hospital plus home-based support services for vulnerable older people.

Wesley Community Action organises transport to and from the group as most people (apart from those who live onsite) would have no way of getting there.

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For more information about the next programme:

The next Ageing Well programme starts on Tuesday, 13 November. It will run weekly from 10 am until 2 pm until the end of January, with a two-week break for Christmas and New Year.

The cost is $50 for the 10-week course. Lunch is provided and transport is available, if needed.

For more information contact Tracey Scott ph 027 4322 393, email [email protected]


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