Community Visitors Scheme Mid North Coast linking volunteer visitors and socially isolated clients

Jan Gaunt, Coordinator of the Community Visitors Scheme Mid North Coast working on the CVS Newsletter.

 

THE Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) is a government funded support program giving socially isolated clients the opportunity to build friendships with a regular volunteer visitor, after being matched by a coordinator.

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The Mid North Coast area includes the area from Woolgoolga to Macksville and Dorrigo.

Jan Gaunt, Coordinator of the Community Visitors Scheme Mid North Coast said, “It’s a privilege to deal with people in our community who are attracted to befriending an elderly and socially isolated person.”

“I find it very reassuring that there are still people there who have the qualities to reach out to support and care for the more vulnerable.”

Jan told News Of The Area that the number of volunteer visitors has fluctuated this year due to the impact of Covid and the stringent restrictions in aged care facilities.

Though restrictions are relaxing a little, Jan said that some of the more stringent measures may need to be reassessed for the sake of residents, given that there are no active cases in the area.

She said, “Staff in some facilities have remarked on worrying changes noticed in some residents adversely affected by reduced social contact, including reduced appetite, disturbed sleep patterns, disinterest in scheduled activities and apathy when engaging with others.”

According to volunteer visitor Vicki Carmady, who recently left after seven years, the benefits are not at all one-sided.

“It’s been one of the most rewarding things I have done and the ladies I’ve met have the most amazing stories to tell,” she said.

“Life was certainly a lot less complicated when they were young, and very innocent.”

“Iris served in the Second World War, and she told me she and a friend crept out of the barracks, went under the fence, and caught a train to Sydney with the troops.”

“Iris never thought it was improper, as she said, it was just good fun.”

It can sometimes be sad when it all comes to an end.

Vicki said, “One lady who has since passed away and I became very fond of, Kathleen, loved to go out in my car for coffee and cake as she never got out otherwise.”

“I took her out for lunch one Sunday and we sat drinking a glass of champagne and watched the water, she said she’d never done that before.”

Vicki said that the residents are grateful to have someone listen to them and share their life history, and that she’s learnt much herself.

“I would encourage anyone to do it – it’s so worthwhile, and you’re contributing your time to something that benefits both you and your friend.”

If you’re interested in joining the Community Visitors Scheme on the Mid North Coast, call Jan Gaunt on 6648 3662, Tuesdays to Thursdays.

 

By Monika KOZLOVSKIS

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