Social Support in Practice

Social Support

What we know

Relationships and social structures can affect the health of people. The social support a person receives as they are living with a terminal illness can increase feelings of self-worth and reduce symptoms of distress. For older people who may have become socially isolated, social support is very important.

What can I do?

Talk to the person about their relationship with family and friends.

Find out if social work available in your area. Social workers are often available via community care.

Tell clients about My Aged Care which provides information on services that allow people to interact with their community through the Community Visitors Scheme. Information can be accessed online at: Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme (ACVVS) or via a call to My Aged Care contact centre on 1800 200 422.

Companionship and social connections can be supported by Red Cross as well as disease-specific organisations who can provide resources for support.

What can I learn?

Watch the Altura Learning video which explains the Community Visitors Scheme which coordinate volunteers to visit recipients of Australian Government subsidised aged care services (residential and home care) who are socially isolated and whose quality of life would be improved by friendship and companionship.

Read: Bradley N, Lloyd‐Williams M, Dowrick C. Effectiveness of palliative care interventions offering social support to people with life‐limiting illness - A systematic review. European Journal of Cancer Care. 2018;27(3):1-12.

What can my organisation do?

Review the need for education and training of volunteers willing to be part of a befriending scheme or who might support other aspects of supporting palliative care recipients.

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) should be able to provide information of local resources.

What resources are local to your organisation? Create a directory of service and support for your team to use.

Consider creating linkages with existing roles in the community to assist older people to access community services – eg. link to disability services for volunteer drivers. A Residential Activities Officer (RAO) could be the coordinator person for this linkage or your organisation may create this role.

Inclusion of pastoral care within palliative care networks is important in attending to the spiritual needs of palliative care recipients – refer to National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care.

Creation of a lending facility for equipment such as mobility aids, hearing loops and electronic equipment eg. tablets / computers, may assist socially isolated palliative care recipients.

Consider the Compassionate Community movement.

Consider creating a hospice day care.

Page updated 18 June 2021