Volunteers needed to connect with socially isolated locals

By Morgan Dyer

Shepparton’s Italian community is using technology to stay connected.

Before COVID-19 the Italian Assistance Association CO.AS.IT Aged Care Services visitation program provided friendly and meaningful face-to-face engagement to older people from an Italian background who were at risk of social isolation and chronic loneliness.

However, to ensure elderly locals are not left in the dark, the association has reshaped the delivery of its services and is using technology to connect with older residents.

Regional program manager Maria Fabbri said volunteers had begun interacting with their clients via telephone and video calls.

“Moving to remote services means our elderly clients can stay safe while continuing to receive friendly and much-needed social engagement from our pool of volunteers,” Ms Fabbri said.

“Our volunteers can continue to play music, read the newspaper, dance together, chat and even take part in spiritual activities with our elderly clients using technology.

“Instead of one hourly face-to-face service a week, volunteers are calling their clients several times a week for around 20 minutes.”

Ms Fabbri said CO.AS.IT was continuing to look for volunteers with an Italian background to join the rewarding program.

“It has only been since the coronavirus began I have realised the importance of my job,” Ms Fabbri said.

“These elderly people are isolated by themselves, like we are now, every day.

“It’s not until you experience it yourself that you understand — and now I completely understand.

“I really feel for them.”

Ms Fabbri said people may have more time to spare during isolation to volunteer their time.

“It’s really rewarding,” she said.

“It makes vulnerable people smile and makes you feel good.”

For more information, to become a volunteer or to nominate a socially isolated person phone Maria Fabbri on 0481603710 or email [email protected]

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