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Balwyn Evergreen Centre joins Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme (ACVVS) to combat social isolation



Ruby and Jill enjoying ice creams.
Ruby and Jill enjoying and ice cream. They're part of the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme (ACVVS), administered by Balwyn Evergreen Centre.

MEDIA RELEASE

For immediate release

Date: 12/12/2023


Balwyn Evergreen Centre, a community centre dedicated to ensuring that older individuals stay active, healthy and socially connected, is launching its participation in the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme (ACVVS), an initiative funded by the Australian Federal Government aimed at addressing social isolation among older Australians.


The program is a significant step towards promoting social connections and enhancing the wellbeing of older individuals in the community.


"At Balwyn Evergreen, we exist to ensure older people stay active, healthy, and socially connected because we're better when we're connected," says Tina Hogarth-Clarke, CEO of Balwyn Evergreen Centre.


"Social isolation not only creates feelings of loneliness and can cause people to feel worthless; we now know it can lead to poor mental and physical health outcomes. With regular visits, both volunteers and older people can build meaningful connections and make a real difference in each other's lives.”


Ms Hogarth-Clarke adds, "I am so excited Balwyn Evergreen is part of this excellent initiative funded by the Australian Federal Government because I know it will positively impact the lives of all who participate. And at the end of the day, we are all better when we are connected.”


The Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme pairs trained volunteers with older individuals to provide companionship and support. This initiative aligns with Balwyn Evergreen's mission to ensure that older people stay active, healthy, and socially connected.


As a university student studying a Masters in Nutrition, Ruby Cheung, 36, understands the importance of friendship and connection, having been in Australia for only 18 months.

“I think there are so many opportunities for older people to reconnect with the community and the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme is a perfect way to do that.


“Building connections with older individuals and brightening their day through simple companionship will undoubtedly be a fulfilling journey. I am proud to be part of a program that brings joy and support to those who need it.”


Kerri Jackson, Volunteers Coordinator, Balwyn Evergreen Centre, says, "We are thrilled to be able to extend our reach across the Eastern region of Melbourne. The Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme will allow us to better cater to the needs of older Victorians receiving aged care services, who often face feelings of loneliness and social isolation.”


“We are hoping to provide around 120 matches across residential care and for older people still living at home receiving aged care services across Victoria.  The volunteers will have the opportunity to visit older persons weekly or fortnightly.


“This program is intimate with a grassroots approach, and we are determined to reach out to all older people across the eastern metro area with a focus on those who identify as belonging to a marginalised group or for who English is a second language.” Ms Jackson said.


ACVVS participant, Jill Butler, an 82-year-old widow, lives alone with her beloved cat, Beau.

For Jill, the idea of having a volunteer to come over for a coffee once a week, adds another layer of connection that she is savouring.


“My son, grandchildren and great grandchildren are in regional Victoria, so Balwyn Evergreen plays an important role to my wellbeing. I get picked up by Evergreen every Tuesday and join other friends for lunch.  Then, on Friday, I go to Evergreen for some exercise and lunch.  To now add a coffee visit to my week, simply makes me happy.”


“The ability to stay at home in my comfortable surrounding is so important, especially after having two strokes.  But equally important, is to have social connections, despite also being very happy enjoying my own company.  Getting that balance for me is crucial in allowing to live my life the way I want to.  I am really looking forward to being matched up with an Evergreen volunteer where we can talk about anything and everything!”


The Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme is open to any older person residing in an aged care home and waiting for or receiving support in their own home through a Home Care Package.


Friends, family members, and aged care providers are also encouraged to reach out to Balwyn Evergreen Centre to learn more about the program and how these valued friendships can positively impact the lives of older individuals, reducing their sense of isolation.


Volunteers are carefully selected and possess a sincere desire to alleviate social isolation faced by older people, along with a deep understanding of the complex health challenges they may encounter. Equipped with practical social skills, volunteers will listen, empathise and engage with older people in a way that best suits the older person.


Kerri further added, "If you are a reliable, confident, and caring individual seeking to make a positive difference in an older person's life, we encourage you to join us as a volunteer visitor. Your contribution can bring immense joy and companionship to someone in need."


To learn more about the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme and to register your interest as a volunteer or refer an older person for this program, please contact Balwyn Evergreen Centre on 9836 9681 or visit https://www.balwynevergreen.org.au/aged-care-volunteer-visitors-scheme

 

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