IRT Group is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit providers of seniors’ lifestyle and care services. Established in Wollongong in 1969, the group has Lifestyle Communities, Care Centres, In-Home Care and Wellness Programs in NSW, the ACT and South East Queensland.
In 2014 IRT created a new strategic direction, ‘Towards 2020’, which outlines their vision to directly enrich 20,000 lives and give back $20 million in community dividends by 2020, a key part of their ‘Our Community’ strategic pillar. Consequently, the IRT Foundation was established, which aims to enrich and build strong communities; enable positive change; and to advocate, lead and inspire.
The Foundation proposed using a stage of life to indicate relevance to an individual, rather than chronological age. By focusing on stages of working life, transitions, retirement and later life, the Foundation aims to increase its relevance to all older Australians and therefore provide greater opportunity for them to benefit from its activities. To implement the Foundation’s work, human resources and funding is needed. While the Foundation is reliant on base funding from IRT Group it also carries out fundraising activities and collaborates with other organisations to deliver programs and events. This includes community grants programs and fundraising initiatives. These funds are then used to engage with the broader community to create and drive social changes.
So far the Foundation has been able to establish a successful grants program, an online lifestyle program targeted at over 55s, and an educational speaker series. Additionally, IRT Foundation has co-funded the ageing in place with dementia project, which explores the issue of dementia in retirement villages. This research examined how well people with dementia are supported to age in place through the provision of community care and informal supports in retirement villages. Recommendations were then made to assist village operators in better understanding important issues so that they could effectively meet the needs of residents with dementia.