Demand for Greek speaking volunteers to assist elders

first_imgHaving a chat in their native language can make any person regardless of age feel like home, but especially for members of our elderly community. Simple gestures like this can have a huge positive impact.Understanding the need of our aged community for social connection with people who share the same cultural heritage, Melbourne-based non-profit MiCare has set up a Community and Friendly Visiting program, and is currently looking for Greek-speaking volunteers to come on board.The initiative sees volunteers visiting elders in their own home or residential facilities and spending some quality time together, which can mean reading a book, playing a game or going on an outing, to just engaging in a conversation and sharing a cup of coffee.As Julie Trutsch, the organisation’s social support coordinator explains, the program goes beyond curbing loneliness among the elderly, as it has proven to be equally rewarding for participant volunteers.“If people can visit someone weekly or fortnightly they might end up building a relationship with them. I have volunteers who visit someone for years and they don’t see it as doing a service anymore, but rather like seeing a friend or family and that’s always a level of interaction we welcome when it happens.”Social isolation can be a silent killer, with research linking it to health deterioration effects, such as rapid progression of Alzheimer’s disease, increased rates of depression and sleeplessness or greater feelings of stress.The impact can be even greater among communities with strong family culture, where those not having children on their own naturally end up feeling more lonely.“That’s why it’s important for the public to know that this service [the Community and Friendly Visiting program] is available for their loved ones,” Ms Trutsch says, encouraging those knowing an elderly person who is lonely or isolated to reach out to the organisation.She goes on to remind us how beneficial an occasional visit from a culturally compatible person can be for dementia patients.“Those suffering from dementia tend to revert to their original language and memories associated with their homeland. Say for members of the Greek community, it helps a lot if a Greek-speaking person can visit them so they can talk about places and things from the past, because sometimes this is all they remember.”At the moment, there are eight people on MiCare’s list waiting to be matched with Greek-speaking volunteers for visits in the following locations: Bulleen, Hawthorn East, Rye, Mulgrave, Coburg, Glen Waverley, Reservoir and South Melbourne.MiCare – which stands for “Migrant Care” – started out as DutchCare, providing Dutch heritage-centric care for migrants from Holland, before merging with New Hope Foundation and partnering with other initiatives assisting newly arrived migrants from a a range of ethnic backgrounds.While also operating aged care facilities in Victoria and Queensland, their work has grown to encompass a wide spectrum of support services for people trying to find a foothold in their new country.“Our mission is to enable migrants to have comfortable, enjoyable, dignified and meaningful lives,” says Ms Trutsch and outlines how this approach generates the conditions for beneficiaries to find their agency and even choose to take part in this community of practice.“A lot of our volunteers say ‘I just want to give back’. They might have been helped at some stage and they want to do the same for someone else, making a positive difference within their cultural group or beyond.“I recently recruited an Ethiopian volunteer who had been helped by us when she first arrived in Australia. She is now undertaking a social worker course and wants to volunteer and give back. It’s just lovely to see that kind of turnaround.”If you’re interested in volunteering for MiCare’s Community and Friendly Visiting program you can contact the organisation on 1800 642 273 or email Julie Trutsch directly at [email protected] Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img read more