Around the world, Australians are known as generous, compassionate people who readily and freely volunteer their time across a huge range of situations, programs and organisations.
In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, more than one third of us volunteer on a regular basis.
As we come to the end of National Volunteer Week, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the magnificent work that our SummitCare volunteers do, across all of our aged care homes, supporting our operations, and bringing joy and connection to our residents.
“From driving our residents to appointments and social outings, to helping out with leisure and lifestyle activities, greeting visitors, providing companionship and a chat, our volunteers are caring, generous and kind,” says SummitCare Chief Operating Officer, Michelle Sloane.
Unfortunately due to Covid-19 restrictions, our volunteers have had to temporarily press the pause button on their tremendous work.
However, in non-COVID-19 times, Michelle explains that four-legged friends have become a particular favourite.
Delta Therapy Dogs volunteers visit SummitCare homes on a regular basis, proving that the animal-human bond is very strong, especially for residents with cognitive challenges like dementia or depression.
Whether it’s a calming pat, a floppy ear to listen, a friendly paw to shake or a well-deserved treat to feed, Delta Therapy Dogs bring smiles to patients, residents, families and staff.
The benefits of therapy animals are scientifically proven. Therapy dogs have a positive impact on social, emotional and physiological health, improving quality and life and wellbeing.
Another furry superstar is Baron who used to regularly volunteer at SummitCare Baulkham Hills. At 130kg, Baron is Australia’s biggest dog and possibly, our largest softie!
The amiable five-year-old pooch joins owner Mark York every week, walking around and greeting the residents, including Mark’s mum, Frances.
People’s faces light up when he walks in the room – everyone just wants to cuddle him.
The connection with children is also very powerful for elderly residents. Since 2017, SummitCare’s Wallsend home has run its Youngsters at the Summit program, bringing children under five years in for a regular session of games, craft and music, designed to help the generations bond and develop friendships.
The interaction helps reduce depression and gives the residents a real sense of connection to their community.
Of special note is the work of supportive groups like the South West Sydney Lions Club. As an example, a group from the club visited our Canley Vale home in December, spreading holiday cheer with cards and gifts for each of the 98 residents.
“We’re also very fortunate to have families volunteering their time to help care for their loved ones and to interact with other residents,” says Michelle. “This is a tribute to all families across SummitCare.”
“Our volunteers work tirelessly in a whole range of ways. It’s important to say thanks for the enormous contribution they make and recognise their commitment, during what has been a very challenging year for all Australians, especially those living in aged care,” she adds.
“Volunteers bring us new insights and contribute greatly to the operations of our homes. But most important is the human connection they make with our residents. Our volunteers tell us they love their work with us, making real friendships, and feel greatly appreciated.
“During the COVID-19 situation, our residents and staff have missed our volunteers enormously.
“We can’t wait for the day when we can welcome them back.”
As SummitCare celebrates National Volunteer Week, we invite everyone to put their hands up and thank all the volunteers around Australia by waving a special smile of appreciation.
If you’re interested in volunteering at a SummitCare residential aged care facility in Sydney or Wallsend, Newcastle, call our corporate team on 1300 68 55 48.