New program getting residents outdoors and socially connected

OUT AND ABOUT: Residents Adele Byrnes and Bruce Green enjoy a ride in the trishaw, which is designed to help seniors enhance their sense of social connectedness.
OUT AND ABOUT: Residents Adele Byrnes and Bruce Green enjoy a ride in the trishaw, which is designed to help seniors enhance their sense of social connectedness.

A ride around the lake is not always a possibility for people living in residential care with limited mobility.

But a new project where volunteer pilots take residents for rides in a trishaw is helping the socially isolated make contact with the community and outdoors again.

Nazareth Care Ballarat has launched its Cycling Without Age project, a movement which started in Denmark. 

The aged care facility received donations to purchase two bikes, which are imported from Copenhagen and cost $14,000 each.

Wellbeing and lifestyle manager Alice Haley said often anxiety, depression and cognitive decline such as dementia could prevent residents from going outside.

The bikes presented an opportunity for residents to socialise and have a sense of mobility in the community, which was therapeutic and enhanced wellbeing. 

“A lot of people in residential care are socially isolated and they tend to not do a lot of the things they used to do,” Ms Haley said.

“We had one lady we took out who hadn’t been outside the facility for at least six weeks and she just had such a good time that she actually asked the pilot to go around again.

“We’ve had so much social contact with the people who are walking the lake, people are very generous and they stop and ask questions and talk to the residents.”

While staff members are currently piloting the trishaws, they are looking to train volunteers.

If interested contact Nazareth Care Ballarat.