Loneliness and social isolation has serious consequences for individual health and well-being with studies finding that it is associated with a 29% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease, a 32% increase in risk of stroke and 26% increased likelihood of mortality. Loneliness and social isolation is recognised as a pressing issue facing societies around the world with the former US Surgeon General warning of an “epidemic of loneliness” and the newly appointed Minister for Loneliness in the UK rolling out a nationwide multi-agency loneliness strategy.
The Mt Gravatt Social Isolation Project is funded by the Queensland Government, Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors and provides the Mt Gravatt Community Centre with a Community Link Worker, Wendy Blackmon. Wendy’s role is to connect socially isolated members of the community to meaningful group programs and activities through social prescribing. The Social Isolation Project provides community members and organisations the opportunity to refer individuals who have been identified as socially isolated or experiencing loneliness.
The Mt Gravatt Holistic Health Project is funded by the Commonwealth Government, Department of Social Services and also provides the Mt Gravatt Community Centre with a Health Care Link Worker, Elise Marr. Elise’s role will be partly based at 2 medical centres and will link patients in primary care with sources of group support within the community. The Holistic Health Project provides medical professionals with a non-medical referral option that can operate alongside existing treatments to improve health and well-being.
These projects demonstrate how a whole of government approach to a major community issue can be addressed through a collaborative model. Mt Gravatt Community Centre in partnership with the University of Queensland, will be tracking the progress and outcomes of the two projects and developing a comprehensive report to present to the both levels of government.