Turning Point recently received a grant of $215k to support older adults in the Yarra Ranges, funded by Gandel Philanthropy.

Did you know that chronic pain affects one in three older adults, and it is estimated to be Australia’s third most costly health problem?

Many people living with chronic pain become dependent on prescribed opioid medication and research shows that this can be harmful in the long-term.

Social connection is recognised as a key ingredient to improving the quality of life for those suffering chronic pain, and an important step in reducing opioid dependency, but it is often difficult for health providers to address in the traditional clinical setting.

A new project, devised by Turning Point in partnership with Eastern Health Foundation, aims to tackle this challenge and it has been given a significant boost after being awarded a Major Grant from Gandel Philanthropy.

The Opioid Use and Pain, Addressing Loneliness in Mature Adults (OP-ALMA) project, is a pilot program targeting older adults in the Yarra Ranges with chronic pain and opioid dependence.

It is an innovative, world-first approach to the holistic management of pain and opioid dependence combined with well-being and quality of life in older adults.

The project will include a strong focus on mentoring and coaching health professionals in the region, to enhance their capacity to address social isolation.

Dr Shalini Arunogiri, an addiction psychiatrist at Turning Point, says the team is thrilled to receive this funding from one of Australia’s largest independent family philanthropic groups.

“As health providers we know that long-term use of some pain medications can be harmful to health. We want to help people get up and about, to connect with others in their community. This project gives us a real opportunity to make a difference”, says Dr Arunogiri.

Vedran Drakulic OAM, CEO of Gandel Philanthropy, says the project ticked all the boxes when considering grant recipients.

“Positive ageing is one of the key focus areas for Gandel Philanthropy. As such, partnering with Turning Point and Eastern Health to pilot this new approach to improving the health, wellbeing and quality of life of older people experiencing chronic pain, addiction and loneliness was a natural fit.

The project is embedded in the community, offers tailored social and community activities and involves consumers, carers and health healthcare professionals. It is clearly a comprehensive, well-structured approach and it is strongly aligned to our emphasis on promoting healthy ageing within communities,” says Mr Drakulic.

Turning Point will collaborate with the peak body for older adults, COTA Vic, and other key community partners in the Yarra Ranges region as well as with Eastern Health’s Pain Management Services, in delivering this project.

Thank you Gandel Philanthropy!

About Turning Point

Turning Point is a national addiction treatment centre, dedicated to providing high quality, evidence-based treatment to people adversely affected by alcohol, drugs and gambling, integrated with world-leading research and education. Turning Point is a highly-valued internationally recognised centre within Eastern Health, that delivers outstanding and innovative research, education and treatment services across Australia.