Social Support in Practice

Social Support

What we know

Relationships and social structures can affect the health of people. The social support a person receives as they are living with a terminal illness can increase feelings of self-worth and reduce symptoms of distress. For older people who may have become socially isolated, social support is very important.

What can I do?

Talk to the person about their relationship with family and friends.

Is social work available in your area? Social workers often available via community care.

Tell clients about My Aged Care which provides information online: Social support and activities or via a call to a  contact centre 1800 200 422.

Companionship and social support is provided by Red Cross and disease-specific organisations can provide resources for support


What can I learn?

Watch the Aged Care Channel video which explains the Community Visitors Scheme which coordinate volunteers to visit recipients of Australian Government subsidised aged care services (residential and home care) who are socially isolated and whose quality of life would be improved by friendship and companionship.



What can my organisation do?

Review the need for education and training of volunteers willing to be part of a befriending scheme or who might support other aspects of supporting palliative care recipients.

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) should be able to provide information of local resources.

What resources are local to your organisation? Create a directory of service and support for your team to use.

Consider creating linkages with existing roles in the community to assist older people to access community services – e.g. link to disability services for volunteer drivers. A Residential Activities Officer (RAO) could be the coordinator person for this linkage or your organisation may create this role.

Inclusion of pastoral care within palliative care networks is important in attending to the spiritual needs of palliative care recipients – refer to National Guidelines for Spiritual Care in Aged Care

Creation of a lending facility for equipment such as mobility aids, hearing loops and electronic equipment e.g. tablets / computers, may assist socially isolated palliative care recipients

Consider the Compassionate Community movement

Consider creating a hospice day care

Page updated 22 November 2017