The Healthy Me, Healthy Community program giving retirees a sense of purpose
Retiring after a long and fruitful career can certainly be a very exciting and welcome stage of life. On the flipside, however, it is often associated with feelings of loneliness, unfulfillment, and a lack of purpose.
No-one understands this more than 70-year-old Jeff. Jeff, an ex-electrical trades TAFE teacher, retired four years ago after enjoying an engaging and gratifying work life. Once the initial retirement ‘honeymoon period’ passed, the commonly reported sense of disenchantment began to set in.
A hard worker who thrives in a busy environment, Jeff also enjoyed the human interaction and social side of working. Therefore, the much slower pace and significant decrease in contact with others made Jeff’s new reality a difficult adjustment.
Getting his ‘groove back’
Struggling with purposelessness and some personal issues, Jeff sought professional guidance. The Mayo Private Hospital referred him to the Outreach Program who recommended Feros Care’s Healthy Me, Healthy Community (HMHC) program.
Designed to get people involved with activities that have a positive impact on health and wellbeing, HMHC was just what the doctor ordered…minus the medication. It instead focusses on ‘social prescriptions’ like volunteering, social groups, arts, cultural events and exercise to help participants feel connected, relevant and above all, happy.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect or if the program would actually help me, but it sounded like an interesting concept so I decided to participate,” reflects Jeff.
“Thankfully it turned out that the program suits me very well. It’s delivering what it promises and is one of those things that you get out of bed for.”
Collaborative goal setting
During their first conversation, Jeff and his Wellbeing Coach discussed how the program could improve his social connections and give him more purpose. Based on the Wellbeing Coach’s ability to gain a clear understanding of what matters to him, they collaboratively mapped out some key goals.
“She (the HMHC Wellbeing Coach) reads me very well. She listens, has lots of ideas, and comes back with suggestions which are a good fit.”
Jeff identified that he needed something which would connect him to the community and maintain his interest at the same time.
During his TAFE days, he had a lot of experience teaching woodwork. With this in mind, his Wellbeing Coach secured a volunteer position for Jeff in the local Community College’s workshop.
“I feel right at home there, the people are really nice, and the work is very interesting. I’m designing and building teaching aids for classes, like a macramé corkboard I just completed.”
The world is my oyster
In addition to doing something he is passionate about, Jeff is enjoying helping others, as well as gaining the community interaction he was missing.
“Spending time with people energises me and the program has given me a purpose.”
He went on to explain that the bonus of volunteering is that he can control the ‘terms’ of his work.
“I’m doing 2 days a week which is enough for the time being. It’s great that I can dictate my own times and work the hours that suit me best.”
Moving forward, Jeff’s Wellbeing Coach is exploring coffee meet-up groups to further expand his social networks. With his volunteering in full swing and the prospect of more community engagement on the horizon, he’s keen to see where the program could take him next.
His parting words reflect this sentiment and will hopefully inspire others to sign up for the HMHC program.
“It’s very early days of course, but I’m feeling very positive – and the world is my oyster.”
This program is funded by Healthy North Coast through the North Coast PHN program and is delivered by Feros Care.