Australian Red Cross is seeking older people who receive a home care package to join its long-running Community Visitors Scheme, bringing them into contact with friendly volunteers who can make regular visits.
In particular, Red Cross is keen to hear from those in the Metropolitan Melbourne and Barwon regions.
Red Cross Community Programs Manager, Victoria, Kaja Andersen, said caring volunteers are available for older people on home care packages who might be feeling lonely or isolated.
“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it is the importance of staying socially connected,” Ms Andersen said.
“The weekly visits can involve anything from doing the quiz in the paper, reminiscing on childhood, or simply having a chat and a laugh.
“Our connections with older people matter – we have so much to learn from them and enjoy with them. At the same time, we can support their mental health and happiness in the later stages of life.”
One Melbourne participant in the CVS, Hugh, said he has enjoyed being part of the program since being connected with Vicky, a Red Cross volunteer.
Like many people, Hugh found last year’s lockdowns challenging, but was helped by the regular phone calls from Vicky.
They have now been able to resume face to face visits and both really enjoy each other’s company.
“I appreciate what the organisation has done in choosing Vicky to visit me,” Hugh said.
Vicky said the experience has also been worthwhile for her: “I think Hugh and I were destined to be friends. He’s fabulous and I enjoy chatting with him and having a laugh.”
“He’s definitely teaching me a few things. So it’s my absolute pleasure.”
Red Cross has operated the CVS across Australia for more than 25 years, with older people living in aged care facilities being matched with a friendly volunteer for weekly or fortnightly visits.
CVS was then expanded to take in regular social visits to older people living on a home care package who may receive few or no social visits.
Red Cross provides the scheme as part of a suite of services designed to increase people’s wellbeing and quality of life.