Brimbank staff going distance for older residents

Council is reminding residents not to forget older citizens as COVID-19 restrictions ease, with staff paying friendly ‘window visits’ to older and isolated residents to help them stay connected through the crisis.

A friendly (and physically distanced) chat on the veranda, or through the window with social support staff has been beneficial for Brimbank residents who live alone, are aged over 90, or who are experiencing poor health.

Brimbank Mayor, Cr Georgina Papafotiou, said she is proud of the work of Council staff in supporting more vulnerable people in the community while helping them to stay safe.

‘With restrictions easing, and life starting to look normal again for some of us, it’s important that our older residents know they haven’t been forgotten during this crisis, and to remind them that they are highly valued members of the Brimbank community,’ Cr Papafotiou said.

The window visits began as over-the-phone welfare checks for around 200 clients. These are mostly people aged over 65, who normally take part in Council’s social support programs, which are not currently running due to restrictions on gatherings. The oldest client is 98.

The feedback from the clients is very positive. They are pleased to see someone, to have a chat, to not feel alone or forgotten.

From phone calls, the team were finding clients who live alone, or have physical or mental health conditions were finding it difficult to adjust to staying home and away from social activities.

Window visits last between 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the client’s individual needs.

Staff provide newsletters and activity packs to clients based on individual interests – from knitting to puzzles, word games and quizzes, crafts and cards.

They also take the opportunity to link clients in with other Council services such as meals on wheels, community register, and libraries or assisted shopping. For clients or carers not coping, staff will provide options for respite care.

Italian, Croatian, Arabic and Egyptian news, and cooking videos for foods like spanakopita, curry and scones, produced by STACC and Bowery Theatre staff, have also proved popular.

Doreen, who has just celebrated her 96th birthday and has lived in Brimbank for most of her life, is one of the clients who received a window visit. Through Council’s knitting group, she knits warm items for community members who need them.

‘Going to the club, I think that has kept me alive longer. I’m going out, meeting people, we’re talking about different subjects,’ Doreen said.

She’s currently knitting a ‘Footscray’ knee rug in the Western Bulldogs colours of red, white and blue, which will surely be well-received by community members in the West.

Council’s team is planning to make at least one visit to each of their clients, all over Brimbank.

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