The Federal Government has invested $5 million in a new program to re-engage volunteers into aged care homes and make access to volunteers easier for providers.

Acknowledging the social isolation and loneliness that aged care residents have had to endure during the COVID pandemic, the Department of Health is encouraging volunteers to return to the sector while also hoping to persuade a new army of volunteers to donate their time.

Amended public health advice now permits visitors into aged care homes. Residents are currently allowed two fully vaccinated visitors aged 12 years and over, plus two children under 12 years of age a day. However, many aged care residents find themselves detached from their communities and isolated from their loved ones.

Volunteers provide non-clinical social and emotional support to residents by offering companionship and assisting with leisure activities. The aged care volunteer program matches volunteers with nominating facilities.

Training and orienteering will be undertaken by Volunteer Australia. Residential facilities will be required to have an onsite volunteer coordinator and volunteer insurance. They will also need to provide PPE and rapid antigen tests.

Volunteers, meanwhile, will be asked to enter a signed agreement with the facility setting out clear timeframes and roles. The health department is keen to note that volunteer work cannot replace that of paid workers.

Interested residential aged care providers can nominate for volunteer placements here.  

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