Background: Social isolation is an increasing concern for older adults who live in the community. Despite some availability of social support programs to address social isolation, their effectiveness is not routinely measured. This study aimed to evaluate an innovative excursion-based program offering unique social experiences to older adults receiving aged care services. Methods: This six-month before and after mixed-methods study evaluated the outcomes of an Australian excursion-based program which offered social and physical outings to bring older adults receiving aged care services into the wider community. The study combined two parts: Part 1 was a pre-post survey assessing the quality of life of older adults who received the excursion-based program for 6 months (n = 56; two time-points, analysed using signed rank test) and Part 2 involved qualitative in-depth, semi-structured interviews (n = 24 aged care staff, older adults and carers; analysed using thematic analysis). Results: Older adults experienced a significant increase in quality of life scores (p < 0.001) between baseline and 6 months. Interviews confirmed these observations and suggested that benefits of participation included increased opportunities for social participation, psychological wellbeing, physical function, and carer respite. Interviews also revealed being in a group setting, having tailored, convenient and accessible activities, alongside supportive staff were key drivers in improving the wellbeing of participants. Conclusions: Participating in an excursion-based community program may improve wellbeing in older adults. Aging policy should focus on prioritizing initiatives that promote social connectivity with the wider community and assist in improving outcomes for older adults.
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- Home and community care services
- Social capital
- Social networks