Volunteeer to help us to HelpDEM.......

Training ‘super volunteers’ for carer support

Almost anyone can be a volunteer. Volunteers just need a desire to help people living in their local community, and a caring attitude. Volunteering to support the carers of people living with memory issues is about to become much easier through a pilot programme which will provide free, easy, locally provided training.

Through the support of a Federal Government research grant, Rural Northwest Health and Edenhope Memorial Hospital have joined forces with Swinburne University and Horsham’s Centre for Participation to steer the program.

Swinburne University’s Dr. Hilary Davis said the grant would support the training of 10 volunteers from Edenhope and a further 10 from Warracknabeal and Hopetoun. These volunteers will be matched with 10 carers from each of these communities.

“These people won’t just be volunteers – they will be volunteers with super powers, they will be trained to provide carers of people with memory issues with emotional support as well as information about community services that could help” she said.

The program was started after recognising there was a gap around training people to work with carers for people living with memory loss or dementia.

“Our understanding is that there is very little specific training for volunteers who want to support carers in this role,” she said.

“So we want the program to be able to improve the capability of the volunteer in their particular role so they can help the person living with dementia to actually stay at home for longer.

“We don’t just want volunteers who can provide respite to help support the carer but volunteers who can provide information about services available and can help connect the carers to local services.” The training will be easy to understand, is free, takes less than one day, and is provided at your local health service. Volunteers are welcome to bring a friend who might also like to take part. After training is completed, the project will include ongoing volunteer support including regular volunteer meet-ups, where volunteers can talk about their volunteering experiences.

Hilary Davis said she and fellow Swinburne researcher Tracy de Cotta were currently putting together a review of training packages.

“We are looking at what has been done to date. We are aligned with Alzheimers Australia who are partners in this project to see what can be done.

“One element of the training might be to refer carers to a memory support nurse who can help implement Montessori principles in the home. Rural Nothwest already bases its care model around these principles. These principles including managing the home environment to best support memory loss and continued independence.” 

Michelle Pitman from Horsham’s Centre for Participation is employed by the project to build and deliver the training

 “She will work with both health services and help recruit volunteers and carers. The health services will carefully match the volunteers with the carers after volunteers have been trained.”

“The volunteers won’t have to meet the carer for any specific amount of time, it will be more flexible than that. It will really be up to the carer as to how much support they feel they need, but we would recommend a minimum of one hour a fortnight.”

Training dates are scheduled for Thursday 19st October at teh Elsie Bennett Centre in Edenhope.

Anyone interested in getting involved in the program as a volunteer or a carer can contact:

Michelle Pitman 5382 5607 or 0429 142 897

Hilary Davis 0422 989 726 

Click here to download a brochure with more information