Respite centre fills gaps for Filipino, Chinese communities

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Connie San Jose
Connie San Jose

Spectrum Migrant Resource Centre’s (MRC) new respite centre for older people from the Filipino and Chinese communities formally opened its doors on 24 July 2013 to showcase the impact it is having on both the clients and their families.

Ms Enriqueta Espino, 96 year-old resident of Mill Park, explained how the weekly attendance has allowed her to make new friends and to be more active: “The whole week I am alone. This is the one day I meet my friends. It makes me happy and feels good as it reminds me of home,” said Ms Espino who came to Australia in 1980 and is cared for by a full-time working daughter.

Spectrum Respite Centre Whittlesea opened in June in response to an increasing demand for aged care services for new and emerging communities in the north. It is a Spectrum MRC initiative designed to address the needs of the Filipino and Chinese communities. These communities present unique challenges for the future planning of aged care services, as members mostly migrated to Australia in the 1980s under the Family Reunion Program, so they were already elderly when they arrived in Australia.

As explained by Spectrum MRC’s Program Coordinator, Ms Connie San Jose, “These groups are most at risk of having needs that are difficult to address using mainstream existing services. They have misplaced expectations due to economic dependence; they suffer isolation due to language barriers and have been struggling to establish new roles. If you then take into consideration different educational standards and degrees of urbanisation, you start to appreciate what major cultural shift they have been going through and they strive to maintain their shared community of the past,” said Ms San Jose.

spectrumThe event was attended by representatives from the City of Whittlesea, local MP Ms Lily D’Ambrosio, representatives from Department of Health and Ageing (DOHA), and aged care service providers. Guests were treated to a display of multicultural presentations, including a performance by the Spectrum Multicultural Choir, Chinese dancers iDance and a performance by Filipino participants who played musical instruments.

Spectrum Respite Centre Whittlesea is supported by the Whittlesea Local Government Area and the DOHA under the National Respite for Carers Program.  The program contributes to the support and maintenance of caring relationships between carers and dependent family members or friends by facilitating access to information, respite care, and other support appropriate to their individual needs and circumstances.

Spectrum Respite Centre Whittlesea is funded by the Australian Government.

See other photos by George Gregorio.

 

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