**Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) 17.2. All rights reserved.**
Background: Community hubs offer a pragmatic approach to address the wellness needs for older adults at risk of social isolation and declining physical activity.
Objective: The current study evaluated the effectiveness of a wellness program delivered from a community hub (either in person or online) on exercise and social connections of community-dwelling older adults living in Australia during a time of social isolation imposed by COVID-19.
Methods: A single group pre-post quasi-experimental study was conducted online and in person from a community hub. The 9-week program (CONNECT60+) was designed using a community-based participatory approach. It consisted of weekly group exercises led by a health professional and a wellness activity that aligned with active ageing guidelines, such as education, book club, and nature walks. Participants were encouraged to complete daily wellness activities and record these in a workbook. Data were gathered at pre-test and 10-weeks post-test using questionnaires.
Results: A total of 47 participants completed the program. Most participants were aged between 64-74 (61.7%) years; 82.9% were female. Thirty-five participants (74.5%) attended the program in person, and 12 (25.5%) attended online from home. Preliminary findings showed participants prioritized social connections during the week and increased the duration [median (IQR) min] of exercise completed per week [pre-test: 285 (246, 567); post-test: 346 (150, 415), p < .01].
Conclusion: The study endorsed the wellness program delivered in person and online from a community hub to enable older adults to complete wellness activities, including exercise and socially connecting during a time of self-isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.