First up… who is Lively?
Lively is a not-for-profit organisation that was established four years ago with a BIG vision — to create a world in which no young or older person feels unwanted, excluded, or undervalued because of their age.
The idea sprung from an experience of our Founder, Anna. As a 21-year-old, Anna met and got to know an older woman named Patricia who was completely isolated, without friends or family in her life. You can hear a bit about Anna’s experience with Patricia in a recent pitch here:
Seeing Patricia’s experience opened Anna’s eyes to the harsh reality and prevalence of isolation in older age. 4 in 10 older Australians feel lonely and isolated, and 2.5 million have felt unwanted, excluded or invisible because of their age.
Meanwhile, Anna was growing increasingly concerned by another significant challenge — the number of young people struggling to find their way into their first job. More than half a million young people in Australia are unemployed, and the primary barrier is lack of previous experience. But as Anna wondered, how do you get experience if no one will give you a go?
Reflecting on both of these challenges, Anna was struck by an exciting idea. What if these two seemingly unrelated problems could be brought together to solve each other? What if we could employ young jobseekers to provide services and supports that would help older people maintain connection and wellbeing? And in doing so, create connections across generations, and spaces for older people to share their experience and knowledge back with the young — breaking down ageism, and building a more age-friendly community.
Once the idea hit her, Anna couldn’t escape it. And so the long journey to bring Lively to life commenced!
What do we do?
From this starting point, Lively has developed and run a range of programs to put our core idea into practice. To date, we’ve focused on employing young people to help older people learn how to use technology and get online to connect, communicate, and pursue interests. And the results have been amazing! Older people have built skills, confidence and increased their social connectedness, while young people have built confidence, people skills, and more positive attitudes towards older people. You can get a glimpse of what happens in this video of one of our previous programs in regional Victoria:
But while we’ve seen so many great things coming out of the technology help service, we’ve also discovered how much more there is for us to do. In particular, through working with older people we’ve discovered that Australia’s home care system is broken and heard again and again from older people and their families how stressful, disempowering, rigid, impersonal, and confusing their experiences of accessing and using home care services have been. We heard that despite the rhetoric of consumer-directed care, many older people feel no better able to exercise control over their services — rather, that they feel confused by the system, and reliant on case managers to guide and define their care.
Care staff are rushed and overworked, leaving little space for conversation, connection, and companionship with the older people they support. Bitterness and despondency are rife throughout the sector. And the industry is failing to attract young people into it — a huge problem in the context of our ageing population, and the need for significant growth of the aged care workforce.
For a while, we explored the possibility of working with existing providers to engage young people and deliver new services. But unfortunately, we were met with little appetite for creativity or experimentation with new ideas. So late last year, we made an exciting decision — to have a crack ourselves! To have a go at rethinking home care, and to build our own home care service model that would attract, train, and employ young jobseekers to provide a broader range of home supports to older people.
So where to next?
In deciding to have a go at our own model of home care, we started with some key, critical questions:
1. What would great care and support really look like from the perspective of older people and their families?
2. How would the proposition of a young person who is less like a ‘care worker’ and more like a ‘grandkid who comes and help out’ land with older people and their families?
3. How could we foster meaningful connections and relationships between older people and the young people who come to help them out? Relationships that are two-way and based on mutual exchange, rather than positioning older people as passive ‘recipients of services’?
4. How would young people respond to this model? Would they be interested in providing these broader supports, and how far would this interest stretch?
To start answering these questions, we initiated a design process with young people, older people, and their families to start exploring, understanding, and designing for their needs and goals. And we’ll be sharing the process and what we started to learn in our upcoming posts! Follow us to receive and read updates as they go to air, and reach out if you have any questions or ideas of your own. We’re excited to share the journey with you.