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Social prescribing helps Jill start living again

With a hearty laugh overflowing with optimism, it’s hard to imagine 69-year-old Jill ever feeling down. It wasn’t long ago, however, during an endless wait for a heart transplant, she faced a choice – to remain stuck in a rut or start living. With courage (and a self-directed kick in the rear), she enrolled in Feros Care’s Healthy Me, Healthy Community (HMHC) program.

Now, she’s making each day count instead of counting down the days.

The waiting game

Strolling along the idyllic beaches of Port Macquarie with its sea-green coastline, you wouldn’t associate such a beautiful place with feelings of apathy and stagnancy. Yet that’s exactly how Jill felt as she waited for the call that would change her life.

The prolonged wait for a heart transplant, compounded with other health issues, meant that Jill’s well-being had deteriorated. She couldn’t walk, hit the gym, and wasn’t going out. Plus, she didn’t have any family nearby. This left her feeling bored and isolated, uncharacteristic for this animated jokester.

Jill knew that she couldn’t shake these feelings alone. She needed a plan, ideas, and support. She needed more than just self-motivation to get back on track.

A plan of attack

Upon seeing a Facebook advertisement for the HMHC program, Jill thought it could be a good fit and self-referred to the program.

“I was sick of my own company,” Jill recalls. “I decided I had to do the hard yards and look into the program for some guidance.”

HMHC is a unique 15-week social program available in the Port Macquarie region that uses social prescribing to improve participants’ overall wellbeing. It empowers them to re-engage with their community and find meaningful social connections. Working with a Wellbeing Coach, participants rediscover activities that bring them joy, learn new skills, and volunteer to find purpose, which can immensely improve physical and mental health.

More than a mentor

After signing up and meeting with her Wellbeing Coach, Jill knew she had made the right call.

“She was brilliant at listening and had lots of good suggestions,” says Jill. They chatted for hours about Jill’s likes and dislikes, her wellness goals, and their shared interests – like trivia.

“She (Jill’s Wellbeing Coach) was so beautiful, laid back, and non-judgmental. She took me as I was.”

With the wisdom of her years, Jill had become a mentor to young folks in her community. Yet, after working with her Wellbeing Coach, she appreciated the role reversal of having a mentor of her own.

“I liked a younger person’s input,” Jill said. Her Wellbeing Coach’s fresh ideas and encouragement were just what she needed to inspire a new outlook on life.

The secret sauce to success

After a few in-person meetings, Jill’s Wellbeing Coach learned Jill’s goals of meeting new people, working on her self-image, and giving back to her community. Using this feedback, she helped Jill become a member of her neighbourhood society, start a meditation class, and join a book club. She also helped Jill apply for a new job and get back to the gym.

What was the secret sauce to all this rapid self-improvement? Friendship and accountability.

“It was nice to have someone to take an interest in me enough that I didn’t want to let them down,” said Jill. “Just like how your family holds you accountable, my Wellbeing Coach was like that family for me.”

With only one week of the program left, Jill is feeling healthier than ever. These days, she looks forward to connecting with new friends and enjoys a lively schedule outside of the house.

“I feel connected”, says Jill. “I’ve got my mojo back!”

Lots more living to do

Committing to a new program can be a scary prospect. However, with the HMHC program, the long-term benefits far outweigh the initial apprehension. Plus, it’s 100% free (funded by Healthy North Coast), meaning there’s no financial risk to give it a go.

Jill encourages anyone struggling with social isolation to put trust in something beyond themselves.

“There’s lots more living to do – and I’m doing it,” she says smiling from ear to ear.

Sometimes, it takes a friend to get you back on track. For Jill, that friend was her HMHC Wellbeing Coach. Now, she doesn’t spend her days waiting, she spends them living.

To find out more about the HMHC program, click here or call 1300 987 215.

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