Thursday, 23 February 2012

Volunteers - a gift to our community

To support isolated and frail Jewish seniors in the community, JewishCare has run North Links (on the North Shore) and since 2011 East Links (in the Eastern Suburbs) since 2006.

The objectives behind the programs are:
-           - To reduce the social isolation of Jewish seniors
-          -  To recruit, screen and train suitable Jewish volunteers to spend time with older Jewish people who live at home – eg home visiting, outings, transport to appointments, card games, movies etc.
-  To increase socially isolated Jewish people’s engagement in community activities

The main challenge of the program is to source volunteers who following training, are able to forge long term link with a Jewish elder which benefits both the client and the volunteer. The matching of the client with a client is carefully managed by the Links Program Coordinator Linda Subel, who then monitors the link, maintains contact with the client and offers support and supervision to the volunteer.

As with all programs, as they become more successful and well known more volunteers are required.

If you feel that volunteering is a a fun and innovative approach which offers a flexible and responsive service designed to meet the needs of the elderly in the community, that you can assist in overcoming the  loneliness and isolation of the elderly members of the community and you have the capacity to enhance  the life of an isolated lonely elder then contact JewishCare FirstCall on 1300 133 660 or Linda Subel on 9488 7100   - click on the brochure for more information -

Remember there are so many benefits to volunteering:

-           - a sense of giving back to the community
-          -  a sense of belonging and feeling valued
-          -  the opportunity to have new experiences
-           -  knowing that your community is benefiting from your input.

Most of the elderly  would prefer to stay at home. Home Care in Arizona (2010)  stated 7 reasons why seniors wanted to stay in their own home:

1.Comfort.  This reason really bleeds over into the others as well but the senior is comfortable in the house where they have lived for many years.  The TV is just the right distance from their chair and doesn’t have any reflections on it, they have spent years getting the furniture the right size and in the right place.  So why should they leave.
2.Safety.  Now at first glance this might be a reason for going into assisted living but most seniors feel safer at home.  They know the sounds of the neighbourhood, when neighbours come home and when they leave and most can move around their house and even their yard blindfolded.  They feel safe in their environment.
3.Memories.  They have experienced the entire fabric of life in their home.  Birthdays, holidays, including dry turkeys, disappointments and celebrations, medical issues, retirement, aging and death.  The home has been the foundation of all that has gone on and they don’t want to walk away.
4.Independence.  From pre-teen years we all strive to achieve independence and now that the senior has had it for so many years they guard it with all the vigour they can muster.  If the car keys were taken from the senior earlier then this is the last vestige of independence.
5.Cost.  Assisted living expenses can be expensive so staying in one’s home can be quite a savings.  Add to that the possibility of a reverse mortgage and their monthly bills can be reduced but things like a gardener, pest control, etc have to be managed.
6.Network.  This term might be used with younger folks but the elderly person can have a network…a social network of people who check on them during the day.  A volunteer can be the social network for the senior.
7.Family.  Many times the family home is just that and there are extra bedrooms for visiting family members.  Children of the senior can visit and bring their kids and now you have three generations staying connected in a home environment, not just visiting grandma at an assisted living facility. If the family visit irregularly again the Volunteer can be crucial in maintaining the senior in their own home.

Being a volunteer for the Links Program is a rewarding activity –Go on make the call, volunteer today and make the difference to someone's life!


  1. There is no doubt that seniors prefer to stay in their homes for as long as possible. There is a lot that can be done to make this easier, such as removing clutter, adding handrails and improving lighting. I also got my mom a cheap, Tracfone SVC phone, which she carries with her at all times. This way, if she is out in the garden and she falls, she can call for help.