“Our volunteers just love it when they see the residents smile. They love it when they see them laughing. And they love it when they see the residents engaged and active.”
With these words, IRT Volunteer Coordinator Natalie Shipp sums up the satisfaction IRT Group’s 550 volunteers get out of helping others.
Nearly all of IRT’s volunteers work in the organisation’s Care Centres, more commonly known as residential aged care facilities.
And most live independently in IRT Communities, working alongside IRT’s Lifestyle Officers to support the Care Centre residents.
IRT Kangara Waters' Lifestyle Community residents volunteer to drive the bus
“Our volunteers play a significant role in helping to overcome social isolation. They run cafes or kiosks, help with outings and get involved in special interest activities. The social aspect is their main focus,” Natalie says.
She says people’s motivation for volunteering can be quite different.
“Some people just want to get involved with people and have a desire to help; others want to gain experience and knowledge in the aged care sector for either a career change or to bolster their resume. We also have volunteers who are retired and want to be active in their community and use their skills and experience.”
Natalie’s encountered volunteers with skills in nursing, IT, accountancy and administration. Others have a passion for dance, fine arts and history. All are keen to share their skills and knowledge.
The challenge is to match the volunteer’s skills and passion with the needs of the organisation, which Natalie is working hard to facilitate.
Natalie’s been in her role since late 2015 and is committed to supporting volunteers and the great work they do across the ACT, NSW and Queensland.
“As a young girl growing up, volunteering was instilled in me by my parents. Both of them volunteered and it was always with older people.
“I love what volunteering represents for our residents. I’m passionate about improving their quality of their life. I believe we can do that through the volunteer program.
“In my previous experience as a physio and as a care coordinator, I saw people struggling with social isolation and difficulty accessing the community. You ask anyone, anywhere what is important to them and it’s being socially connected and engaged in the broader community.
“I believe our volunteer program can meet those needs and make a real difference.”
11 May 2017