Last week, Volunteering Australia celebrated National Volunteer Week (15-21 May), with the theme ‘We are the change makers’, to highlight the powerful impact volunteers make.
Volunteering can change the lives of both volunteers and those they support. This week offers an opportunity to recognise the crucial role of those volunteers who give their time and energy to make change in our communities, to encourage others to volunteer, and to show our appreciation for the difference volunteers make in so many ways.
Volunteers are certainly ‘change makers’ in any setting, but particularly so when they support an older person. There are many different ways that people can connect and make a difference as a volunteer in an aged care setting.
Volunteers who have a musical or artistic talent bring joy into the lives of others by sharing their gift – and sometimes learn new skills, too. People who can play a musical instrument or assist with art or craft are always welcome to share their talents and connect with others.
Active volunteers can assist with walks, exercise, gardening or other wellbeing activities and groups.
Others volunteer by visiting with a pet, providing spiritual or pastoral support, helping with onsite shops or with digital technology, being a friendly visitor, or by driving the volunteer bus.
By volunteering with an aged care provider, you can help to alleviate the isolation and loneliness that aged care residents and clients may experience. Volunteers can help by supporting individuals, providing social companionship, one on one or in a group setting. It is a fantastic way of complementing the work of paid staff who deliver the direct care and support for residents and clients.
Everyone can be a ‘Change Maker’ by helping to increase awareness of the vital role volunteers play in our lives, or to become a volunteer. There are many ways in which you can connect with other people and make a difference, and I encourage you to consider volunteering in aged care.
To all the volunteers who make such a valuable contribution to our communities — thank you!
Opinion piece by Darren Birbeck
Chief Executive Officer