Red Cross is seeking people interested in spending time with others and who are willing to brighten the life of an older person once a week or fortnight.
The Australian Red Cross office in Narooma has recently received funding to expand the Eurobodalla Community Visitors Scheme. This service matches volunteer visitors with an older person, who experiences social isolation and who will benefit from companionship and friendship.
Peter Tough of Bodalla has been a Red Cross volunteer visitor for about eight years and has been matched with a number of different people over that time.
“Some of them have been really interesting characters and I’ve learned quite bit from them,” Mr Tough said. “I've found the visits very rewarding and felt that the clients have looked forward to my visits and benefited from them.”
Currently Mr Tough is matched with an older man from Dalmeny, who has dementia. This older man is keen to follow the progress of his favorite London-based soccer team, which plays in the UK national league.
Mr Tough often uses the internet to source information about how the team is progressing and this is a regular theme of their visits.
Red Cross Community Visitor Scheme coordinator at Narooma, Liz Ruck said social isolation could become a big issue for people as they age.
“With ageing can come loss of friends and or spouses as well as loss of mobility and hearing and these are all circumstances that can lead to someone having less social contact than they would like,” Ms Ruck said.
“The physical and mental health of an isolated person deteriorates much more quickly that the health of those who have regular social contact with others. These days even loving family members can be hard pressed to spend meaningful time with their aged relatives.”
A weekly social visit can make all the difference to people in this situation. The Community Visitor Scheme supported the recruitment of the right volunteers and worked with aged care service providers to identify people who would benefit, she said.
Visits occur at least once per fortnight and are relaxed and social in nature. People might chat, reminisce, listen to music, read the newspaper or play card games.
Volunteer requirements include:
- Enjoy spending time with older people
- A good listener and communicator
- Commitment of one hour per week, 9:30am to 4:30pm, weekdays or weekends
- Minimum 12 months commitment
- Willingness to maintain monthly contact with a Red Cross coordinator
- Over 18 years of age
Community Visitors receive:
- Training, information and resources
- On-going support and guidance from Red Cross CVS Coordinator
The service is free and available for people who live in aged care facilities or who receive an Aged Care Package. If you know someone who you would like to refer or if you want to volunteer, please contact the Red Cross at Narooma.
For further information, contact Liz Ruck at the Narooma Red Cross office at Suite 7 (Level 1), 114 Wagonga Street, or call on 0466 309 043 or email firstname.lastname@example.org