Ageing Well Network

The above photo is of Anne and Marlene, two of our loved members who connected and supported each other and built a great friendship. Moe mai ra e Anne.

For decades, Wesley Community Action has worked with seniors/kaumātua, particularly the more vulnerable older people. The origin of Wesley Community Action was the WesleyHaven retirement village in Naenae where we first began. We have learnt so much together:

  • We have learnt about the power of embracing client and community led ways of working
  • We have learnt about the value of diverse, intergenerational communities.
  • We have learnt about the growing acute limitations in the current care system that significantly lessen the quality of life for too many.

This learning is driving Wesley to innovate new approaches to ageing well, in collaboration with seniors/kaumātua themselves.

In 2017, after making the hard decision to close our rest home and hospital Wesleyhaven, we turned our minds to a new question:

"How might we innovate to support older people to work with the community and meet their own needs?"

At the end of 2017, we brought together a small group of seniors/kaumātua from the Lower Hutt region to prototype a connection group. This has continued to grow and blossom into the Ageing Well Network.


Whenever we don’t know where to start, we bring people together to ask them the questions – what can we do together that we can’t do alone? Ageing Well was no exception. We had a big wide question about how to age well in community, and needed to have seniors/kaumātua answer that. Our aim for the first group was to meet the immediate needs of isolated older people in our community and provide opportunities for them to connect and contribute.

As we worked with the group of 10 people each week, it became clear that there was some gold here. We wanted to be able to include more people in this magic so after 10-weeks of meeting, we held a graduation of the original group, kept them meeting weekly, and started a new 10-week course with a new group of people.

The Network

This group kept growing and meeting weekly at a coffee group and sharing their lives with each other.

We have done lots of different things together:

  • We partnered up with the Hutt Timebank to share the Timebank as a resource we can use and help to identify needs, and skills and to record those and encourage trades.
  • We took trips to places people hadn’t been in years – or had never been, and did lots of different activities together.
  • We hosted several groups of external researchers or government departments to share the knowledge and experience of the members in external research projects and government consultations.
  • We supported lots of the members with tricky issues, and big life transitions
  • We delighted in the group starting to self-organize to meet their own needs, especially phone calls and visiting each other to fight loneliness that too many of the group experienced before.

This mahi comes out of the years of love and care that the past workers and residents of Wesleyhaven built together and from the current residents of Wesley Rātā Village who show generosity, humour and courage looking towards change. Also to the current and past members of the network who have been up for doing things differently in their lives, and our fabulous Ageing Well facilitators.

What have we learnt?

Too many of our seniors/kaumātua’s in Aotearoa have slipped out of community without us noticing. Instead of practicing community they have started to practice loneliness. It is easy to slip into that when you end work, and your family grows up and you have health challenges.

But we’re learning that it’s also easy to slip back into community if you have a really supportive place to do that, and someone to encourage you back. Seniors/kaumātua have so much to contribute to each other and the wider community. Creating spaces for them to come together and make new connections seems to be building some amazing value for the Ageing Well Network members.

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