Volunteers help keep aged care visits happening

Kerry Mason and Brian Thacker are two of the volunteers who wonderfully responded to the call to help make the COVID-19 visitor concierge service a reality at HammondCare’s residential aged care homes.

HammondCare put in place the visitor concierge service so that carefully controlled personal visits could continue during COVID-19, within Australian Government guidelines, in recognition that social engagement is of significant importance to residents.

More than 30 volunteers put their hands up to help make the visitor concierge system happen, bolstering the work of HammondCare enabling and other staff also deployed into concierge roles.

They work shifts welcoming visitors, screening for health issues, citing proof of flu vaccination, ensuring hands are sanitised, and ending the 60 minute visits when necessary.

Nearly 80,000 hours of voluntary assistance

Kerry Mason volunteer concierge crop 580Kerry’s and Brian’s concierge work is an example of the valuable contribution volunteers make to HammondCare - in the past 12 months HammondCare’s 1100 volunteers provided 79,622 hours of assistance at 22 locations.

Kerry, 60, of Corrimal, does two morning shifts a week at HammondCare Horsley and said she loves the work and the social interaction.

“To be honest, I find it a bit of fun,” Kerry said. “I am really loving it I guess as I am a big talker!

"I am getting to know the visitors well and have a brief chat with them on their way in.”

She said one challenge is to try and remember all the names of regular visitors and, as well, the frustration some experience as they come to terms with conditions for visiting, including the government-mandated flu vaccination.

Brian, also 60, of Lilli Pilli, does the evening concierge shift Mondays through Thursdays at HammondCare Miranda. He joined HammondCare in December initially as a driver of the Miranda bus and quickly added helping out with the men’s club and facilitating video calls.

“Everyone is so appreciative that HammondCare has been able to keep visits with families going through the concierge screening,” Brian said.

Volunteers needed now more than ever

Brian Thacker concierge volunteer 580The contribution of people like Kerry and Brian is especially valuable right now as many long-term volunteers have had to withdraw their efforts in recent months due to coronavirus.

Volunteer ranks have thinned as those over the age of 65 – who make up a large contingent -- have been required to stay at home while others have been unable to continue for reasons such as home-schooling children or their own health concerns.

HammondCare Head of Pastoral Care and Volunteer Services, Andrew Nixon, said HammondCare always valued whatever time volunteers have available to offer.

“The assistance that volunteers like Kerry and Brian have provided has been valuable for so many families who want to keep visiting their loved ones,” Rev Nixon said.

“We know many of our volunteers have had to withdraw for a range of reasons in recent months yet are desperate to come back to give us a hand when they can – many are in regular contact,” Rev Nixon said.

All HammondCare volunteers are screened, go through an orientation process and are managed by a paid volunteer leader who matches their skills and experience with appropriate volunteer activities. Apply here.