Mobile lunch and social club

Category: Rural, remote and very remote

Accessible Living Options, Bathurst NSW

This social support, meal and transport program came about after a brain storming session with three senior staff of three local service providers to look at a new model of service delivery that was innovative, flexible and cost effective. The focus was on an 'early intervention' to maintain older people's health and wellbeing targeted at those living in rural communities. 

It was identified that many older people were isolated from meeting people who live in larger towns or even other rural areas. They are also unaware of what supports and services were available to them. These people were struggling to remain living at home or in providing care for a loved one with little to no support until a crisis and/or hospital admission. 

The program is an opportunity for people over 65 years living in rural and remote areas to build social networks within communities that they love, provide connection to people living in the local city, rekindle friendships, etc. It also includes an opportunity to experience a range of speakers, enjoy a meal together and participate in a variety of activities such as craft, gentle exercise and singing.

The program promotes the independence and wellness of older Australians and supports their continuing contribution to society.

Key 'influencers' in outlying villages were targeted to help identify those socially isolated. A Coordinator arranges the outings and supervises volunteers. Aged men, living alone, were targeted with the support of male volunteers to gently ease them into the project.

Community Transport assisted with transporting people. Meals are provided by Meals on Wheels, local caterers and from CWA groups and Progress associations.

Local schools were involved with children attending to meet older people and perform with singing and playing musical instruments. Local service providers, social groups and entertainers were accessed to provide presentations and entertainment for the participants.

Eighteen outings were held in the first year with an average of 27 participants attending. Participants met new people, formed friendships and enjoyed activities they are not able to access because of where they live or their financial situation.

The program has been successful in reaching 74 frail aged people living in social isolation on rural properties and in the local city. Information is provided to participants on what services are available to them – at times giving out a 'sample bag' of information. Staff and volunteers identify people who may not be coping at home and make referrals to Aged Care Assessment Teams, Aged Care Package Providers, Community Nursing, public housing, home modifications etc. and at times referring to a Case Management service if the person has many and complex needs. Independent advocates have also been involved, to assist with issues and make linkages to solicitors etc. if legal advice is required.  The focus has been united keeping people living independently as possible in their homes.

For more information on the program, contact Cheryl Keogh, email: or phone: (02) 6338 2307.