Living in a residential aged care home when your first language is not English, can be isolating, alienating and frightening. For many older Italian residents, it takes many months for them to settle into their new surroundings, but they may continue to struggle with a different language and culture on a daily basis.
The CIAO (Cultural Italian Activity Opportunity) program for seniors is designed to bridge the gap between the daily activities of the residential aged care facility and the Italian residents, as well as promote inclusion and belonging to their new home.
Co.As.It. has provided valuable support services to residential aged care facilities by implementing culturally appropriate activity groups for residents of Italian backgrounds. In addition, Co.As.It. facilitates cultural awareness briefings for staff and volunteers. The CIAO program provides a valuable link between the Italian residents in care and the wider community, by bringing together all Italian residents to share activities, music, morning teas, and other distinctly Italian cultural past times. The groups enrich the quality of life for our elderly Italians who often cannot participate in the facility’s diversional therapy activities because of lack of English skills, and cultural differences. It is encouraging to see that even residents with dementia still show happiness and direct responses when they hear Italian voices and music or smell Italian coffee.
Since running the groups, we have identified many positive changes, not only for the residents, but also for staff. The groups have helped residents make the transition from home to nursing home and have been integral in alleviating isolation, promoting inclusiveness, fostering participation and belonging, as well as providing staff with expertise, support and resources on how best to cater to their specific needs.
The CIAO program is run in 14 residential aged care facilities in the Brisbane region. Without the understanding and support of these special residential aged care facilities, the Italian elderly residents would be greatly marginalised. Consistent with Co.As.It’s commitment to the community, these activity groups are delivered on a not-for-profit basis, with Co.As.It. meeting the delivery costs of the program. Download the CIAO program brochure for more information.