17 December 2015 – Reflections on being a Community Visitors Scheme Volunteer
The Community Care NESB Community Visitors Scheme provides meaningful visits to people in the community in aged care homes.
Residents have lead full and fascinating lives, and love having someone to share their stories and have a conversation with, or even a visitor to just keep them company.
Volunteer visitors are matched with someone suited to them, and visit generally for about an hour around twice a month.
The scheme is now taking applications for new volunteers.
Go to Volunteer Connect and search for the keyword ‘NESB’ to find out more about Community Visitor vacancies in your area.
Check out what some of the current volunteers have to say about the program:
Imelda joined CVS 4 years ago, but having lived all her life in and around Scottsdale, she has a long history of visiting residents at Aminya Home. There are always people she knows there, Imelda says, and sometimes it can get a bit tricky when she goes to visit her CVS resident and runs into other people who think she has come to see them. Nevertheless, Imelda likes being able to say hi to everyone. She says she is always delighted when people are pleased to see her and thrilled that she has come to have a chat with them. While Imelda finds volunteering no big effort on her part, she says the residents she has visited for CVS have always treated it as though it was. ‘They are very appreciative of my time’, she says, ‘and thank me for coming’. As both her residents have been room-bound, she thinks her most valuable contribution for them has been spending time listening to and sharing stories, and being understanding about their mishaps. Nothing can be better, she thinks, ‘than having a laugh and joke together’.
Aileen visits residents at Aminya Home in Scottsdale. She too is a local, but has only returned to Scottsdale since she retired. She has visited two residents since joining CVS, both of whom have died. Unfortunately, Aileen learnt of the recent death of her last resident after seeing the death notice in the paper. Aileen says she likes visiting people, particularly if they get something out of it. She likes to think her visits to her CVS residents brightened up their day. While the time she spent with both residents was not long, Aileen says they appreciated seeing someone and always thanked her for coming, so she thinks her visits were worthwhile. Aileen plans to continue volunteering with CVS.
Toni has visited the same resident at Mt Esk since she joined the CVS program nearly five years ago when she stopped work. She likes that volunteering keeps her connected to the community, and she enjoys the get-togethers with other CVS volunteers. ‘Volunteering makes me feel useful and gives me a good feeling’, says Toni. She derives both great satisfaction and happiness from the look of excitement on her resident’s face when she arrives. Toni says her resident tells her that she finds the ‘afternoons are very long’, and as soon as Toni arrives she asks if they can go out. Toni is more than happy to oblige, and they are up and out of the home, visiting different places around town to have a chat over coffee. ‘She vents and talks, and I sit and listen’, says Toni. ‘But it makes me feel good that she has someone to confide in and that she knows that what she says will go no further’.
With nearly 19 years in the program, Margarite is our longest serving CVS volunteer. Over the years she has visited many residents in a number of homes. Earlier this year Margarite spent 7 weeks in hospital recovering from a fall that caused a number of injuries. She has had to give up driving too, but she is undeterred by these hurdles and now uses a taxi to visit a resident at the Manor and another at Legana Presbyterian Home. Her residents are like family to Margarite and she loves visiting them. ‘It gives me something to look forward to and I feel needed’ she says. ‘It does me good to get out and meet people and feel like I am doing something with my life’, she adds. When visiting, Margarite draws from her past career as a speech therapist to recite poems and jingles she used in her teaching. She likes reminiscing with her residents, who she says are glad to see her and are always very polite. They thank her for coming, and when she leaves they ask, ‘You’ll come again won’t you?’
Carol is visiting a resident at Aldersgate, King Meadows. Volunteering is something she always thought she would like to do. ‘It is good for me’, she says, and having recently been injured in a terrible accident she says it is also ‘good to be reminded that there is always someone worse off than yourself’. ‘Knowing that you have made someone’s day’ when you are greeted with a big smile makes it all worthwhile too’, she adds. Carol never finds scheduling her visits a chore. ‘It is down on my calendar like a regular appointment’. She has wondered what her resident gets out of her visits, but as neither of them draw breath after she arrives she thinks he is genuinely happy to see her. Carol’s resident has no other visitors and he was delighted to meet her husband and her grandson when she took them along with her on several of her visits.
Fay moved to Scottsdale from Western Australia eight years ago. She has visited the same resident at Aminya Home since she joined CVS four years ago. Fay gets great satisfaction in being able to do something for someone else, particularly because her resident does not get many visitors. Her resident, however, has severe Alzheimer’s and can be challenging at times. Sometimes she tells Fay to go away, but Fay always returns. She perseveres, she says, because she believes she gets through to her resident and that her visits matter. And sometimes her visits are great, and that makes it all worthwhile.
Annette visits a resident at Aldersgate in King Meadows. Her resident has Alzheimer’s, is hard of hearing, is wheelchair bound, and is not interested in much outside the confines of her room. Although Annette sometimes wonders what her resident gets from her visits, and whether she is doing enough for her, she knows her resident is always pleased to see her and knows who she is, even if she cannot always recall her name. She is always happy for Annette to have afternoon tea with her. While Annette might wonder how her visits benefit her resident, she is very clear about what motivates her to make them: ‘I care,’ says Annette, ‘and I get a lot out of volunteering.’ Clearly she does, as Annette has been a volunteer at the kiosk at Launceston General Hospital for years, and she is also the secretary of the Holman Clinic Auxiliary, which raises funds to support the Holman Clinic and purchase items for the benefit and comfort of its patients.
Britt traded Queensland for Scottsdale four years and she has been visiting the same resident at Aminya Home since she joined CVS. She finds satisfaction in the knowledge that she is doing something for her new community and is helping someone. She is delighted with the ‘glad you came’ acknowledgement and feedback she receives. She thinks for her resident, having someone who is lucid to sit and chat with is important. They spend time discussing what is on the telly and chatting about events and their respective families. Britt thinks this sort of companionship and interaction is good for both of them.