Volunteers are the backbone of the aged care sector, and more are needed

Tens of thousands of people, of all ages, such as 90-year-old Lily Burns and 20-year-old Charlise Hannagan, volunteer in aged care homes.

The Change Makers is the theme for this year’s National Volunteer Week, 15 to 21st May, which celebrates the vital work of volunteers.

Volunteering is at the core of the aged care sector. Many businesses in the sector were created by volunteers. Staff time is shared amongst the clinical needs of residents, whereas a volunteer is there purely to spend quality time with residents. It’s not just the residents who reap the benefits of the volunteer experience – the volunteers themselves gain a deep sense of purpose and fulfilment from their role.

HammondCare, where Lily and Charlise volunteer, has about 750 volunteers in total and is looking for more people willing to give one to two hours a week for 12 months or longer in the community, in aged care homes or hospitals.

In November 2020, the Age Care Census 2020 stated there were 11,980 volunteers in residential aged care (a decline of 49% from 2016). They act as companions, and help with transportation.

Volunteering has been central to HammondCare’s Mission since the independent charity’s beginnings 90 years ago. It has launched the Share Joy – Volunteer with Us campaign to find people keen to make a real difference in volunteering roles in NSW, the ACT and VIC.

 

Gail Yap, Uniting NSW.ACT Volunteer Lead, People and Culture, takes care of 11,000 volunteers.

“Today, volunteers make up 15% of our workforce, performing over 50 different roles, across 100 teams,” said Gail Yap, Uniting NSW.ACT Volunteer Lead, People and Culture.

“They contribute their time, energy and experiences, to help us connect people and communities, across generations and cultures.

“Volunteers can support to fill service gaps and be the connective fibres to build webs of informal support for communities. What could we achieve if everyone, with their unique experiences and skills, could volunteer just 30-minutes a week to support another person in their community? It would be life changing.

 

“Uniting needs more volunteers as our community is growing. Our population is ageing and diversifying, and we need to keep up.” 

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A special thanks to our contributors

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Caroline Egan

DCM Media, agedcare101

Caroline has a wealth of experience writing within the retirement and aged care sector and is a contributing journalist for the Villages.com.au and agedcare101 blog and accompanying newsletters.

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Ian Horswill

Journalist

Ian is a journalist, writer and sub-editor for the aged care sector, working at The DCM Group. He writes for The Weekly Source, agedcare101, villages.com.au and the DCM Institute fortnightly newsletter Friday. Ian is in daily contact with CEOs of retirement living, land lease and the aged care operations and makes a new contact every week. He investigates media releases, LinkedIn and Facebook for a good source for ideas for stories.

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Lauren Broomham

Retirement and Aged Care Journalist

Lauren is a journalist for villages.com.au, agedcare101 and The Donaldson Sisters. Growing up in a big family in small town communities, she has always had a love for the written word, joining her local library at the age of six months. With over eight years' experience in writing and editing, she is a keen follower of news and current affairs with a nose for a good story.

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Jill Donaldson

Physiotherapist

Jill has been practicing as a clinical physiotherapist for 30 years. For the last 13 years she has worked solely in the Aged Care sector in more than 50 metropolitan and regional facilities. Jill has also toured care facilities in the US and Africa and is a passionate advocate for both the residents in aged care and the staff who care for them. She researches and writes for DCM Media.

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Chris Baynes

DCM Media, agedcare101

Chris has been a journalist and publisher in the retirement village and aged care sectors for 11 years. He has visited over 250 retirement villages and 50 aged care facilities both within Australia and internationally. Chris is a regular speaker at industry conferences plus is a frequent radio commentator.

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Annie Donaldson

Nurse and Carer

Annie has a long career in both nursing and the media. She has planned and co-ordinated the medical support from both international TV productions and major stadium events. In recent years she has been a primary family carer plus involved in structured carer support.