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Towers of Support

Towers of Support is a support group for residents of Exhibition Street’s Regency Towers. Through the group, residents who are not well or are temporarily incapacitated can receive short term support from other residents. Smart Blocks recently spoke with Maureen Capp, who initiated the program, to provide inspiration and advice for other apartment block residents interested in initiating something similar.

In 2001, whilst three women residents of Regency Towers were having coffee, the idea was floated of creating a women’s group for the apartment block.  Maureen Capp was elected co-ordinator for the group. The idea developed momentum and thirty five women attended the first women’s group event. Eventually the group became a social group for men and women, involving regular functions to create good will in the community. Towers of Support emerged as a sub-committee of this social group.

“It’s been incredibly valuable,” says Maureen. “We once had a lady in bed after foot surgery. The support group was able to let her visitors in through security, or pick up her medication, mail and any shopping for her.”

“Another time, a resident had a broken wrist and someone from the group was able to help her around the house. Other times it’s just that someone forgot their swipe card or key.”

Towers of Support is for short term support, not for long term care. After paying the once-off $5 joining fee, residents receive a card with phone numbers of other residents they can call if they need support. And there’s an important ‘no gossip’ policy, so after having supported a fellow resident through an incident, support group members are able to debrief with the Tower of Support coordinator, but aren’t to discuss the matter beyond that.

Maureen herself has benefitted from the support group when her husband collapsed at the breakfast table.

“There are four elevators in the building,” Maureen explains, “but only one of them can fit an ambulance trolley. All Towers of Support group members are trained in locking off the appropriate lift so the ambulance trolley could get to Maureen’s apartment without delay.”

In terms of advice for residents wanting to set up something similar in their apartment block, Maureen says you need a committed person with managerial skills, or even a group of residents, to drive something like Towers of Support. The group has existed for 14 years now, with the number of residents involved ebbing and flowing over the years. At its peak, the group had 120 members in the block of 220 apartments. Some residents even report having bought their apartment at Regency Towers because they knew about the support group.

According to Maureen, Towers of Support has really strengthened the sense of community, belonging and care in the apartment block. If people are inspired by the concept but daunted by the idea of establishing such a group, Maureen suggests that one of the most important steps you can take is simply talking with people in the lift or in the corridors. Creating a friendly atmosphere is the first step to enhancing the sense of community and care in an apartment block.