Health network celebrates outstanding volunteer service

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Health network celebrates outstanding volunteer service

Hundreds of volunteers are being recognised by the Limestone Coast Local Health Network this week in a show of appreciation for the outstanding community service they provide.

The network has about 300 volunteers in Mount Gambier, Millicent, Robe, Kingston, Keith, Bordertown, Naracoorte and Penola who undertake a host of community service activities.

The network’s volunteer coordinator Tracey Anderson said volunteers were matched to their strengths in roles that suit them and the time they had available to give.

“There is a group of volunteers who form a dedicated team in Mount Gambier who create new client packs for the region, which are given to new clients at the network,” she said.

“Others are patient transport drivers who transport renal patients to Mount Gambier for dialysis, which runs five days a week, with the volunteer drivers often picking up extra shifts when required.”

Ms Anderson said there was a pet therapy team whose members visit the network’s hub and the Mount Gambier Hospital.

“They do a brilliant job, they visit wards and also staff, it’s such a great little mental health break on a Wednesday afternoon, it’s a nice break for the staff away from their desks for five or six minutes just to have a pat,” she said.

“We also have a small team supporting the emergency department called the Friends of the ED.

“There are also regional roles, we have a large cohort of volunteers external to Mount Gambier, out in the regions for home delivered meals, they deliver to community clients who need a bit of help in lots of different towns.

“There is a small team of life story biographers in Penola, they are dedicated to capturing the life stories of people at Pinchunga, they sit with residents and capture their life story and present it back to them in a book.

We have volunteers visit our Aged Care Facilities (resident homes) to help with the residents’ garden, and there are also bus drivers who take people out and about for day trips in the community.”

Ms Anderson said one of the more interesting programs was a trishaw bike at Keith, which could transport two people at a time.

“It is battery operated, we can pop two residents in the trishaw and take them out for a ride, into town for a coffee, or they can go past their old school or homes and get to experience the outdoors and bike riding again,” she said.,

“I’d like to see a trishaw in every town, we call the people who ride them trishaw pilots.”

Ms Anderson said there is a new program the network is hoping to commence soon, which requires volunteers.

“We are looking for more volunteers in a mealtime support program in the Mount Gambier Hospital which is ready to go,” she said.

“We need volunteers from 11.45am to 1pm Monday to Friday to support patients over a meal, encouraging them to eat and enjoying some conversation,” she said.

“You do not have to feed the patient, just spend time over a meal as there’s research to support if someone eats well there is a better recovery time and better overall outcomes.

“This role comes with a full training package, we would like to get it started and give patients some company over lunch.

“We are also looking for additional support in aged care across the region, we have a very small team currently but could use more across the region. This is a very fun role and consists of running activities such as bingo or carpet bowls or doing a puzzle with residents, it could be tailored to a volunteer’s strengths.”

Ms Anderson said the network was very appreciative of its volunteers, with thank you gatherings being held across the region this week.

“We are issuing 2024 volunteer pins this week along with certificates of service, including three very special awards recognising 40, 45 and 50 years of service,” she said.

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