Volunteers caring for elderly

Article image - Volunteers caring for elderly A Community Visitor chats with an elderly resident, as part of the City of Unley’s Community Visitor Scheme, which relies solely on volunteers. Most councils in Australia appreciate the vital role volunteers play in their communities, with many giving tirelessly of their time and energy across a range of areas.

The City of Unley in South Australia acknowledges that it would not be what it is today without the generous services of its volunteers who work to enhance the quality of life for many residents.

The Community Visitors Scheme is one of the programs sponsored by the City of Unley that relies solely on volunteers for its existence. The Scheme was initiated by the Federal Government over twenty years ago, with the aim of establishing and strengthening links between people living in Commonwealth funded aged care facilities and the local community.

As part of the Scheme, volunteers become Community Visitors who are matched to a suitable resident in an aged care facility who has a sense of isolation and is lonely. The Community Visitors then spend time with the elderly resident at least once a fortnight.

Acknowledging that the frail or disabled often experience feelings of isolation and loneliness and that nursing staff frequently find their time is at a premium just providing essential care, Community Visitors fill this gap by spending time listening and chatting with the residents. They also engage in a range of other activities, such as going for a walk, reading, playing board games, or joining in activities in the facility and accompanying the residents on outings.

City of Unley Mayor Lachlan Clyne says of the program: “I am very proud of our volunteers; I believe that they are a fantastic asset to the City of Unley. I recommend you take the time and think about joining the Community Visitor Scheme.

In essence, the Community Visitor Scheme acts as a conduit through which the lives of volunteer Community Visitors and aged care facility residents are enhanced and strengthened.