Val’s story – the ACVVS and volunteering

22 May, 2024

To celebrate National Volunteer Week, running 20-26 May, here is a heart warming story from Val about her experiences as a local volunteer for the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme (ACVVS). 

“I started community visiting after I retired. Both my parents had died and I was looking to do something that I would enjoy, that would be a link with people of my parents’ age.

 

Community Gateway matched me amazingly well with the first aged care resident I visited. Pat was from the UK and had been a war bride after falling in love with an Aussie soldier. Some of Pat’s happiest times were working in the underground war rooms in Newcastle, UK. She described her experiences there in great detail, so imagine her absolute amazement when I Googled pictures of all the things she had described and took them in to show her!

 

Another resident I visited was a local man who had enjoyed reading The Northern Star every day during his breakfast time. After the publication closed down, I would cut out any local information I could find in the Daily Telegraph I received at home, and would take it in to him to help keep him in touch with what was happening.

 

I have a nice garden and sometimes I like to take in a selection of flowers to people I’m visiting. I try to pick some that will last for at least a couple of weeks as many of my residents are bedridden and can’t care for the flowers themselves. This way, even if they forget that they have had a visitor, the flowers are a reminder that someone cares. Also, even someone with dementia can get a lot of pleasure from smelling a flower, as the sense of smell is the last sense lost.

 

When I’m visiting, it’s easy for me to talk about what I’ve been doing, what’s happening in the world, what I’ve been reading or watching on TV and so on, but I am really conscious of how little someone confined to bed may have to contribute. To help with this, I’ve often gathered a dozen or so mixed small items about the house, kitchen gadgets etc and put them in a biscuit tin to bring out during my visit. It’s amazing how a simple item like a kitchen tool, sewing thimble or an unusual button can trigger a memory.

 

I try and plan something to do or talk about before each visit. Like in all endeavors, the more you put in, the more you get out of the effort and commitment of time. I’ve certainly derived a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from the people I’ve met, and in fulfilling my volunteering role.”

During National Volunteer Week, we take time to celebrate all the volunteers that transform people’s lives and communities through their dedication and generosity.

Val has been volunteering as an ACVVS volunteer visitor for 10 years now. So on this very special week, we’d like to acknowledge all the lives Val has touched in that time and wish her a very happy anniversary.

Many tracks, one road, sustaining community.

Accreditation

Community Gateway is a registered charity and QIP accredited, assessed against the Quality Improvement Council Health and Community Services 7th Edition Standards.

Acknowledgement

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work and meet, and offer our respect to their Elders past, present and future.

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