“I felt humbled by how difficult the past two years have been for staff and residents, the dedication of our staff was amazing.”—Robynne White, Operational Standards Coordinator.
- With a high percentage of our care workforce on COVID-related sick leave, Australian Unity needed urgent staff help.
- A welcome solution came in the form of a willing group of volunteers from Australian Unity’s head office.
- These volunteering experiences will now be offered on an ongoing basis through Australian Unity’s Connecting in Care program.
When the highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 peaked in January, the aged care industry was hit hard. As staff complied with requirements to isolate, backfilling roles became a major challenge.
Beverly Smith, Executive General Manager of Residential Communities at Australian Unity said that at one point a high percentage of our care workforce were on COVID-related sick leave.
“The health and wellbeing of our team members and residents is our number one priority, so we had to act quickly to find ways to maintain the high level of care we offer our residents, while supporting our team members to take time out,” Beverly says.
A welcome solution came in the form of a willing group of volunteers from Australian Unity’s head office.
“We put the call out and quickly had team members putting their hands up to take time out of their day-to-day roles in finance, IT, marketing and our Group Leadership Team to assist with tasks like laundry, washing dishes, packing RAT kits and running arts and craft activities. They worked alongside our experienced team members, enabling us to keep things running smoothly,” Beverly says.
Robynne White, Operational Standards Coordinator, happily volunteered for two weeks at Constitutional Hill Residential Aged Care in Northmead NSW. Among many things, she was able to provide companionship to residents and assist with PCR testing.
“I felt humbled by how difficult the past two years have been for staff and residents, the dedication of our staff was amazing,” Robynne says.
She says she came home with a new respect for the everyday contribution of care companions and the residents they care for.
Across the organisation, more than 75 staff members volunteered at an Australian Unity aged care community, jumping in wherever needed to ensure residents continued to receive high quality support.
Andy Bee, who works in Group Procurement within Australian Unity’s Finance and Strategy department, was keen to step out of his usual desk job. He lent a hand at Racecourse Grange Mornington Peninsula VIC, folding linen, cleaning dishes and restocking shelves with protective equipment, such as masks.
“It was so refreshing to spend time with our residents and get a glimpse of a day in the life of our aged care teams,” Andy says.
“The most valuable moments were the times I sat down and chatted with residents. This was the most fulfilling part of the experience,” he says.
These volunteering experiences will now be offered on an ongoing basis through Australian Unity’s Connecting in Care program set up by Ben Crough, Community and Inclusion Practice Lead.
“Volunteering in our aged care communities has really turned out to be a win all-around. Both volunteers and residents have been enriched by the opportunity to spend time together, and our volunteers have been so impressed by the commitment and activities our front-line teams have delivered throughout the pandemic,” Beverly says.
Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is of a general nature. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest. Interviewee titles and employer are cited as at the time of interview and may have changed since publication.