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Enhancing quality of life through aged care volunteering: a case study




New friends Les (left) and Ian who are part of the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme with Balwyn Evergreen
New friends Les (left) and Ian who are part of the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme (ACVVS) with Balwyn Evergreen

Have you ever wondered about the profound impact of companionship on the lives of older adults, especially those with dementia, outside traditional care settings? Ian's journey into volunteering offers a heartfelt perspective.


Ian’s initial encounter with Balwyn Evergreen Centre sparked his interest, leading him to engage in the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme with a focus on companionship.


Through his experiences, Ian sheds light on the significance of genuine connections, the challenges faced, and the enriching rewards for both his new friend, Les, and him.


Finding purpose with new friendships


Ian's motivation to volunteer stemmed from a desire to offer companionship to individuals who could benefit from occasional company.


His encounter with Balwyn Evergreen Centre and subsequent interactions with Les affirmed his commitment to fostering meaningful connections outside conventional care settings.


Ian's rapport with Les, characterised by his reserved demeanour and being diagnosed with dementia in 2016, with Ian's penchant for lively conversations, has presented a lovely friendship.


Despite Les's dementia, Ian finds value in their interactions, recognising the significance of companionship irrespective of verbal exchanges.


Ian says, "Les is a man of very few words but we have our shared experiences as sailors which serves as a lovely foundation in our interactions.”


Fostering engagement and meaningful experiences:


According to Ian’s wife of 39 years, Anne Marie, this new friendship with Ian is treasured by Les.

 

“Ian and Les venture out to the Surrey Dive Modelling Boat Club. This club meets every Sunday and Wednesday.  Members meet and sail their sailing boats, motorboats and submarines. 

 

“It is a great place for them to catchup and talk about all sorts of boating topics.  Les loves these Wednesdays, he and Ian chat to the members and there is always a BBQ to be enjoyed.  

 

“This experience gives Les so much pleasure. He still feels part of the club in which he had been a member for 20 years before his diagnosis.  He has a new friend in Ian who has the same interest.”


Challenges and insights


Through his experiences, Ian underscores the importance of patience, genuine interest, and self-awareness when embarking on a volunteer role with an older person, especially who has dementia.


He sees Les as a shining example of resilience and honourability, embodying the best qualities of his generation.


“I hope that my small acts of friendship every fortnight, makes a difference to Les and gives Anne-Marie some well-deserved respite.”


About the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme (ACVVS)


Funded by the Australian Government, the scheme matches volunteer visitors with eligible recipients to create friendships and alleviate loneliness.


At the heart of the scheme is genuine connection for both parties, with long-term bonds forged.  




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