By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
Our senior citizens make up a large part of our community in Bundaberg.
It’s important that the generations who helped build our region to what it is today are still treated as valued members of the community.
That’s where our Community Visitors Scheme shines bright.
IMPACT’s CVS program has been operating in the Bundaberg region for over 28 years and provides much needed companionship to older citizens.
Loneliness has been linked to premature death and poor physical and mental wellbeing.
Statistics from 2018 show that instances of Australians experiencing loneliness increased from the age of 70, from 13% of the population to almost 20% in those aged 80 or over.
Caring for others has been identified as an important safeguard to prevent or reduce loneliness, which is why our CVS program is so vital.
Visits can assist in several ways, and they don’t always have to be in person.
This offers a compromise in times of COVID restrictions, a flu of any outbreak, or when a volunteer falls within a high-risk health category.
While many of our volunteers visit the elderly in their homes or aged care facilities, some of our visitors are trialing online communications through digital tablets.
We also offer these digital tablets as a way to play games and encourage friendships to flourish between the resident and volunteer.
Reading a book, listening to music or playing a board game are also very rewarding ways to spend time with an elderly person.
Virtual Reality headsets are another method we are trialing through CVS.
Many of our elderly can no longer travel great distances, and VR provides a glimpse of life away from the everyday.
Some volunteers have had their participants riding roller coasters at theme parks and re-visiting their old childhood homes they hadn’t seen in years.
The benefits of visiting are endless, for both the visitor and the visited.
To further ensure our volunteers are also reaping the rewards of community and companionship, our CVS team hosts a catch-up each month.
This provides our valued visitors the opportunity to debrief and provide feedback, advice, words of encouragement and support for one another, as well as training opportunities for those who would like to use the tablets or VR headsets.
If you’re interested in participating, our CVS staff will be at the Seniors Expo this Tuesday, March 23, at the Bundaberg Multiplex Convention Centre from 9am to 1pm.
Alternatively, phone Heather Hinsbey on 0448 035 891 to discuss your volunteer options.