The importance of HammondCare's community volunteers

In the aftermath of the Palm Beach Tragedy, General Manager of HammondCare At Home (HCAH), David Martin, has given voice to the benefits of volunteering in the home-care sector.

“It’s a sad and really tragic story. One that we hear particularly in the home-care space, from older people who are living at home and often are socially isolated as their community changes around them” said Mr Martin, in an interview with the ABC’s Robbie Buck.

  • The Palm Beach Tragedy
    The Palm Beach Tragedy refers to the deaths of Geoffrey and Anne Iddon in the Northern Beaches suburb of Palm Beach. Both in their 80’s, Mr Iddon was the sole carer of his frail, vision-impaired wife. After his sudden death, there was no one to care for Anne, who consequently passed away. The discovery of their bodies 3 weeks later, spurred calls for all Australian to keep a closer eye on their neighbours.

“We have got more than 150 volunteers in Sydney, who go out and just spend time with people who are living in their homes. Particularly people who are older, people who might be living with dementia and other complex needs, and people who feel socially isolated."

The ABC’s Robbie Buck had taken up the topic, after an on-air conversation with Superintendent Dave Darcy, who emphasised the fact that it was the responsibility of younger Australians to keep an eye on the elderly members of the community.

“While we’ve got established services, there’s are informal network; part of communities, that needs to step up to the plate and take hold of this as well“ said Mr Darcy, to the ABC.

When asked about the impact the social volunteers have on the elderly community, Mr Martin stressed the value of the "relationship" for both parties.

“People are really thankful that someone is actually prepared to take the time to get to know them and to build a relationship with them” said Mr Martin.

“People have these stories and they crave those relationships. We're lucky in that we have 150 people in Sydney who are willing to get involved and spend some time out of their day to get to know older people and hear those stories.

"It sends that message that ‘I would miss you if you weren’t here’ and it’s a lovely thing for someone to hear that message.”

What do our volunteers say about the experience?

Also featuring on the program was HammondCare Miranda volunteer, Gail, who spoke very highly of the rewards that come with volunteering in the community.

“The reward I get, if you want to call it that, is seeing their faces light up when you’ve come to visit them. You get to sit down and have a cup of tea and learn about them… They’ve got some very special stories” said Gail.

“I do it because there is such a need for people to visit the elderly. They’re lonely and need the company. They need someone to talk to.

"I joined HammondCare three years ago and I just love it.”