Promoting social inclusion of frail older people living in the community
The increasingly diverse needs and wants of Australia’s ageing population, like those in many other societies, are drawing attention to aged care as an increasingly important area of broader health and social policy. Active ageing and a focus on enabling people to remain living in their own homes in the community are two of the key components of this policy shift. The policy shift towards active ageing recognises and aims to support the desires of older people to remain active members of their communities as they age. Active ageing is ‘the process of optimising opportunities for physical, social and mental wellbeing throughout the life-course, in order to extend healthy life expectancy, productivity and quality of life in older age’ (AIPC 2008: 26). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the rights, needs, preferences and capacities of older people should be central to active ageing policies, and these should be framed by a life-course approach to ageing (WHO 2002). The development of age-friendly communities, social inclusion and engagement are emerging as key policy issues in the context of an ageing population (Lui et al. 2009). Recent research demonstrates the importance of a sense of belonging in maintaining a sense of identity and increasing the wellbeing of an individual (Vanclay et al. 2008; Wiles et al. 2009). The sense of belonging that comes about through community engagement also plays a role in successful adjustment to ageing, including prolonging good health and reduced risk of entry into residential aged care (Djernes 2006; Kimberley and Simons 2009; Knapp 2009; Wiles et al. 2009).