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Recognising the contributions of volunteers

From May 15 – 21, National Volunteer Week will be celebrated across Australia to mark the generous contributions of volunteers.

Leading South Australian aged care provider ACH Group has more than 155 volunteers who valuably support customers, residents, and a wide range of services and programs.

ACH Group Volunteer Manager, Tay Parker, said the organisation is fortunate to have a large and diverse group of volunteers all of whom make a positive impact and support the delivery of best practice, innovative aged care.

“Our volunteers are in all stages of their own lives, they have different stories about how they came to cross paths with ACH Group, and why they chose to volunteer. However, they are brought together by a passion for making a difference and acknowledgment of the contributions older people continue to make in the community,” she said.

Three ACH Group volunteers whose stories echo the above sentiment are Millie Bird, Ben Ward, and Dot Sims. To celebrate National Volunteers Week, they have shared their stories.

Millie Bird

When Millie Bird isn’t studying physiotherapy at university, she can be found providing social support and creating clay works with residents of ViTA Residential Care Home.

“It’s nice to do an activity together; the clay creates a talking point but also creates a relaxing, comfortable environment where you can just take in each other’s company,” she said.

“After volunteering, I feel like it has been a really relaxing experience, almost like a meditation, and I feel really good about how I have spent time.”

Millie was drawn to volunteer with ACH Group after spending a lot of time with her late grandparents.

“I enjoy spending time with older people. Residents have come from all walks of life. I feel older people are often stereotyped but they are such a diverse, interesting group and we can learn so much from them.”

Ben Ward

Not only does Ben Ward volunteer for ACH Group but he is also employed by the organisation in the role of General Manager Property within the Executive Leadership Team.

Ben supports the community social program and joins customers on the popular Friday Night Dinners held at different local restaurants.

“My parents have been volunteers for as long as I can remember so I guess it comes from them; but I was also inspired to volunteer because my grandparents passed either before I was born or when I was very young, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to interact with this age group and get to know some of ACH Group’s customers,” he said.

“When you work at ACH Group, you want to understand customers’ needs and preferences as best you can to improve our accommodation and service offerings. Attending the dinners has provided firsthand feedback on their challenges and viewpoints, which have really improved me both professionally and personally. And listening to stories about when they were young and the challenges they have overcome in their lives is really inspiring.”

But it’s not all work talk at the Friday Night Dinners, Ben said he shares common ground with customers.

“We talk about our favourite holiday destinations, sport, and even our gardening projects. It’s actually really interesting, we are all doing many of the same things despite the difference in our age. We are all people after all.”

Dot Sims

Dot Sims volunteers at West Park Residential Care Home located in Goolwa; a role she found unexpectantly.

“My mum Nancy moved into West Park. I wanted to learn more about my mum’s new home, so I began to volunteer and two and a half years later I keep coming back,” she said.

Dot, who previously worked in the banking industry for 25 years, supports the home’s social program, facilitating resident events like bingo, drumming, karaoke, and accompanying residents for individual social outings.

“Karaoke is the favourite. The music and singing deliver so much energy and it brings a lot of enjoyment to everyone,” she said.

“Companionship and social interactions are so important as we age. I really enjoy spending time with residents, hearing their life stories, and reminiscing on history with them. I feel like I am making a difference, especially for residents whose families may not be able to visit often.”

To celebrate their contributions this National Volunteer Week, ACH Group volunteers received a personalised letter of thanks and gift.

ACH Group is currently seeking volunteers in a wide range of flexible roles including supporting residents to engage in social activities, one-on-one friendly visiting, and specialist group support for example men’s group, gardening, and memory therapy.

Learn more about volunteering opportunities with ACH Group across the Fleurieu and metropolitan Adelaide or email Tay Parker at [email protected]

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