Socially connecting during a socially distancing pandemic
PRONIA is a community services organisation with 50 years’ experience in culturally responsive service delivery and the implementation of innovative programs to the Greek and broader culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities.
The impact of COVID-19’s extended lockdown and restrictions in Melbourne was felt strongly by first generation Greek immigrants who are mostly aged 75+. With limited grasp of the English language and even less digital literacy, most were left isolated and lonely, a far cry from the close family connections and large gatherings that usually dominated their lives.
Through the Family Relationship Program, PRONIA’s counsellors, community educators and caseworkers attended to an unparalleled number of calls for help, including from many who had never used the services before. The desperate need for connection was clear and without client access to online programs and services, PRONIA instigated the introduction of telephone peer support groups. Through this program, as well as one-to-one telephone counselling sessions, a record number of individuals were reached and assisted.
The presentation will draw on experiences gained in transitioning face-to-face services and programs to telephone service, and the challenges faced and benefits gained. Additional challenges faced within the counselling context will also be presented; these include unfamiliarity with the counselling process and historic trauma, not previously disclosed.
The presentation will also invite a dialogue with other CALD communities on how to better engage individuals within those communities in times of crises when normal channels of communication are not available; and to seek increased collaboration with, and participation by, policy makers, to improve access to digital technology and digital literacy amongst elderly CALD community members thus facilitating better connection and access to help.
Watch the webinar of this presentation:
Lucy Louca is a Counsellor with PRONIA, working with clients on a one-one basis, as well as within group settings. Lucy is also an accredited Meditation Teacher and conducts webinars and various presentations, often combining her skills and knowledge in both areas to deliver the best possible outcomes for clients.