New ser­vice gives el­derly some­one to talk to weekly

Myrtleford Times - - News -

ALPINE In­de­pen­dent Aged Care Ad­vo­cacy Ser­vice has part­nered with Red Cross to pro­vide reg­u­lar con­tact to peo­ple who have lit­tle or no so­cial con­nec­tion with oth­ers.

TeleChat pro­vides weekly phone calls be­tween peo­ple over the age of 65 and a vol­un­teer caller, giv­ing a mea­sure of sup­port, friend­ship and so­cial in­ter­ac­tion.

The ini­tia­tive will be launched in Bright next Mon­day at the Se­nior Cit­i­zens Cen­tre in Cob­den Street at 1pm with the Com­mis­sioner for Se­nior Vic­to­ri­ans Mr Gerard Man­sour at­tend­ing to talk about the im­por­tance of work­ing to­wards an age friendly and in­clu­sive Vic­to­ria for all se­niors.

Alpine Health Com­mu­nity par­tic­i­pa­tion of­fi­cer Kate Duff said Alpine TeleChat is a free ser­vice for peo­ple who may be older or live alone, have a dis­abil­ity, are house­bound or are car­ers or who have lim­ited so­cial con­nec­tions in the com­mu­nity.

“Friendly vol­un­teers call par­tic­i­pants at an agreed time, gen­er­ally once a week, to share con­ver­sa­tion,” she said.

“Par­tic­i­pants are matched with vol­un­teers based on their mu­tual in­ter­ests, hob­bies and avail­abil­ity.

“The reg­u­lar call pro­vides the older per­son with on­go­ing so­cial con­nec­tion and a link to the com­mu­nity with the aim to en­hance the con­nec­tions of so­cially iso­lated peo­ple.

“Over time it is ex­pected that the par­tic­i­pants may feel more able to de­velop greater con­nec­tions with their com­mu­nity.”

Peo­ple can re­fer them­selves or be re­ferred by a rel­a­tive, friend, health pro­fes­sional or com­mu­nity ser­vice provider.

In 2013, Price Water­house Coop­ers eval­u­ated the Red Cross TeleChat and found that it ef­fec­tively re­duces so­cial iso­la­tion of par­tic­i­pants and al­lows them to con­nect with oth­ers.

For a sub­stan­tial num­ber of par­tic­i­pants it also in­creased their con­fi­dence and ca­pac­ity to com­mu­ni­cate with other peo­ple.

Alpine In­de­pen­dent Aged Care Ad­vo­cacy Ser­vice pres­i­dent Terri Hop­per said that be­ing vol­un­teer caller is re­ward­ing and en­rich­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“You will be mak­ing a real pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in the life of some­one who could oth­er­wise be quite so­cially iso­lated,” she said.

“You will also make a new friend, who you will hope­fully share a deep per­sonal con­nec­tion with.

“Par­tic­i­pants re­ally en­joy hear­ing from their caller and you might learn a lot from your new friend.”

“The Alpine In­de­pen­dent Aged care Ad­vo­cacy Ser­vice is cur­rently look­ing for more male vol­un­teers who feel they would en­joy com­mu­ni­cat­ing with a par­tic­i­pant and who can com­mit the time to make con­tact with that per­son at least once a week.

“Vol­un­teers are re­quired to at­tend a three hour train­ing ses­sion to pre­pare for the vol­un­teer caller role,” she said.

“The train­ing shall in­clude in­for­ma­tion about the pro­gram, the client group and is­sues they face along with prac­ti­cal in­for­ma­tion about un­der­tak­ing the role.

If this is some­thing you would like to be in­volved in please con­tact Kate Duff at Alpine Health on 5755 0131 for fur­ther in­for­ma­tion.

NEW PART­NER­SHIP: Alpine Ad­vo­cates Mar­garet Hartley (left) and Terri Hop­per (right) pic­tured with Red Cross rep­re­sen­ta­tives Narelle Smith and Lau­ren Car­roll are ex­cited to launch Alpine TeleChat.

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