The recently launched Building Bridges program at Alice Ross-King Care Centre, a collaboration between RAAFA, Alzheimer’s Australia, the City of Melville and not-for-profit organisation Attitudinal Healing, is going from strength to strength.
The brainchild of Attitudinal Healings Program Coordinator, Trish Halvorsen the volunteers visit their ‘buddies’ each week - that is residents at the Alice Ross-King Care Centre who they have been paired with, to share quality time and have a chat, very often over a cup of tea.
Launched to support residents who may be a little lonely, or who would like more social interaction, the volunteers are the first to admit that they gain just as much as they give during the sociable catch ups.
“I very much enjoy meeting up with my new friend Ivan,” said AFME resident Trevor Muller.
“We have a great deal in common, including politics, rugby union, farming, gardening, nature and the countryside, and we find conversation very easy. I also feel like I’m doing something worthwhile and find it very rewarding,” he adds.
His fellow volunteer in the Building Bridges program agrees. “I think as I’m getting older that I’m aware that you can very easily get lonely, even though there are people around you,” said Elly Gaunt.
“I have been catching up with my buddy Mavis now for a few weeks, and we have lots in common including a love of puzzles. We chat about everything and anything, from great-grandchildren to fishing and health, and I’m very much enjoying being part of her life.”
Doug Chandler is another volunteer in the program, who lives outside the RAAFA estates. “It’s great to see residents come out of their shell, and it’s wonderful to see both Aimee and Helen being so very supportive of this project,” he said.
“I know very well what it can be like to feel isolated or go through difficulties in life, and when you talk to people, things somehow seem so much easier. I think the volunteers in this program definitely get as much out of it as the residents do.”
According to most recent reports, up to 40% of residents in aged care do not receive visitors on a weekly basis.
“There is an amazing community at RAAFA and it just seems so obvious to harness it to combat loneliness and isolation,” adds Trish Halvorsen who is also part of the program.
“It’s so true that you get so much back from spending time visiting residents. Going into an aged care facility can be daunting, so this program can really help make people feel comfortable and part of the RAAFA community.
To learn more about the Building Bridges program, or to enquire about volunteering, please contact RAAFA Allied Health Coordinator Aimee Curtis on 9324 0161.