The old adage ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ still rings true today, with so many people now realising that sharing their worries or concerns with others can be extremely helpful.

And it’s this same premise that is behind the success of Regis’s Esprit Cafe initiative, which offers residents at any of its Regis aged care homes around Australia the opportunity to chat with a qualified social worker, thereby providing a valuable opportunity for residents to discuss any challenges or major life moments which they want assistance talking through.

Maurine Clarke, Lifestyle Coordinator at Regis Embleton, explains that the ‘caring ear’ initiative has been in operation for over three years at the home, with hugely positive feedback received over that time.

“It started out as more of a small group initiative whereby several residents would chat with our qualified social worker, but it quickly morphed into more of a one-on-one program, where residents could have dedicated and confidential time with her,” she says.

“The idea is that our social worker initiates sometimes challenging conversations and helps our residents deal with major life moments, which could include anything from moving into aged care, to dealing with confronting news, or coming to terms with their own mortality.

“Sheila, our regular social worker, has great rapport with residents, and they think she’s terrific. They often tell our care staff they feel like they’ve been listened to and not judged. They also come away feeling grateful for the advice they’ve received, and often have more of a plan about how to move forward.”

Since the initiative began in November 2019, the free service has been accessed by many interested residents at Regis Embleton, in addition to other seniors living at Regis aged care homes across the country.

Sessions can last anywhere between five and 20 minutes and are offered in small groups or individual settings in a quiet, private area. Sessions are usually offered fortnightly, or more often if requested, and are available to all residents and family members.

And according to Sheila Valentin, the social worker who visits Regis Embleton regularly, it’s the feeling of empowerment which is particularly helpful to the seniors who access the service.

“Each session can not only assist with clarifying the resident’s thoughts or helping them to reach a particular goal, it also underlines to them that they have a right to speak out about any concerns that are impacting on their own well-being, and they can feel confident that they have someone who they can trust,” says Sheila.

“For example, one resident who I saw recently said she was just so happy to have a confident to share her feelings and experiences with, and that same reassuring feeling of confidentiality can mean so much to many seniors in a similar situation.

“Another person who was recently admitted as a resident was having a hard time coming to terms with leaving her family home of many years and entering an aged care home, but after several sessions she acknowledged that she felt more comfortable with her situation.

“It’s feedback like that which is always very rewarding and it’s also, to be honest, why I love my work here at Regis Embleton.”