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Caring for CALD seniors

A Multicultural Wellness Centre (MWC) in Wantirna is set to help meet the growing needs of older migrants in Victoria.
Geok Hwa Low and his wife Geck Ming Tan take part in VMCH’s Chinese Out and About Group and Chinese Exercise Group.

Run by not-for-profit aged and disability services organisation Villa Maria Catholic Homes (VMCH), the centre supports around 60 seniors from various cultural backgrounds with social groups, physiotherapy, education sessions, tai chi, exercise classes, computer and iPad sessions, community outings, cultural events and carer support.

VMCH Lifestyle and Respite Services Team Leader Angela Ng says the centre, which has been running programs since October, already has a waiting list for clients to join its Chinese and Filipino social groups.

“There is a high demand for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD)-specific social support services for older people, especially with the significant growth of the older Chinese community in the eastern metro region,” Ms Ng says.

The Migrant Information Centre reports many older Chinese Australians have become frustrated by their inability to speak or read English and rely on their children for transportation and communication with service providers. They say the existence of senior support services can help to reduce their social isolation.

Geok Hwa Low, 81, and his wife, Geck Ming Tan have accessed VMCH’s Chinese Out and About Group and Chinese Exercise Group for around two years.

“My wife and I had a very challenging time when her medical conditions changed in 2010. She was depressed and we had a lot of arguments at home. She was finally diagnosed with dementia and we knew we needed to look for help.”

The couple were referred to VMCH by the Migrant Information Centre and have enjoyed many social outings, undertaken an iPad course and recently joined an exercise group after Geok suffered a series of falls.

“My wife’s mood has changed a lot (since we joined). She’s become happier and the quarrels between us have decreased.”

Geok said their life had changed for the better. “Without these groups, I think we (older Chinese people) are still struggling to live happily and in a meaningful way. Having Chinese food and speaking Chinese is so important to us to feel good in our old age, especially for my wife’s conditions.”

The MWC accepts people over the age of 65 from CALD backgrounds living in Melbourne’s eastern region. Priority will be given to those who have dementia, a disability, who are frail aged and socially isolated.

The centre, located within the VMCH Wantirna aged care residence on Stud Rd, will be officially opened April 5 2016 at 12pm.


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