“Forget Me Not” volunteer program makes a significant impact by supplying volunteers to assist dementia patients and elderly hospital residents.
As old age approaches, many elderly individuals find themselves in the hospital, facing not only the challenges of ageing but also the isolating effects of illnesses like dementia. In this article, we’ll explore the vital need for volunteer support in helping elderly patients in hospitals, focusing on dementia support and the broader context of community assistance for our senior citizens.
‘Forget Me Not’ Volunteer Program
The ageing population in Australia is on the rise, leading to an increased demand for healthcare services, particularly in the field of aged care. Many elderly individuals find themselves in hospitals, grappling with a range of health issues, including dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illnesses. The need for volunteer support in hospitals is more critical than ever, and organisations like “Forget Me Not” are stepping up to bridge the gap.
In 2022, the Royal Perth Bentley Group introduced the Forget Me Not Volunteer Program. Designed to mostly look after patients of the Royal Perth Hospital suffering from cognitive ailments such as dementia or delirium, the program is open to dedicated volunteers at least 18 years old.
Candidates will undergo health screening and are also selected on factors such as capability for team action, respect for others, having suffered no personal losses in the past year, and a genuine interest of older people especially those hit with dementia.
The Benefits of Community Assistance for Elderly Patients
The impact of community assistance for elderly patients extends beyond the hospital walls. The following are some of the broader benefits.
Reduced Healthcare Costs
Volunteer support can help reduce healthcare costs by enhancing patients’ well-being and potentially shortening hospital stays. When patients receive emotional and cognitive support, they may experience better health outcomes.
Enhanced Patient Satisfaction
Patients who receive personalised attention and emotional support from volunteers often report higher levels of satisfaction with their healthcare experience. This can lead to improved patient compliance and cooperation with medical treatment plans.
Easing the Burden on Healthcare Professionals
Hospital staff, especially in aged care units, are often stretched thin due to high patient-to-staff ratios. Volunteers can help ease this burden by providing additional support, allowing healthcare professionals to focus on medical care.
In the case of Forget Me Not, volunteers also inspect a patient’s hearing aids and eyeglasses for full functionality, and will also assist the patient in mobility as guided by medical staff.
Strengthening Community Bonds
Community assistance programs like “Forget Me Not” foster a sense of social responsibility and community involvement. Volunteers often form meaningful connections with patients, creating a sense of unity within the community.
The Forget Me Not volunteers get to know a patient in one-on-one sessions and learn their quirks and interests, especially in matters such as playing games or singing.
Organisations like “Forget Me Not” raise awareness about the challenges faced by elderly patients, especially those with dementia. This increased awareness can lead to greater support for healthcare initiatives and policies that benefit seniors.
Care for Patients of Dementia through a Volunteer Program
Volunteering to care for elderly patients, especially those with dementia and other illnesses, is a profoundly rewarding experience. Here’s why individuals choose to become volunteers:
- Making a Difference. Volunteers have a direct and positive impact on the lives of elderly patients. They bring comfort, joy, and companionship to those who may be feeling vulnerable and alone.
- Personal Growth. Volunteering offers an opportunity for personal growth and development. Volunteers learn empathy, patience, and valuable communication skills while working with elderly patients.
- Building Connections. Volunteering in healthcare settings allows individuals to connect with patients, their families, and other volunteers. These connections have the potential to be significant and enduring.
- Contributing to the Community. Volunteers contribute to the well-being of their community by supporting elderly patients and their families. It’s a way to give back and create a more compassionate society.
- Career Exploration. For those considering a career in healthcare or aged care, volunteering provides valuable hands-on experience and insight into the field.
How to Get Involved
If you’re interested in volunteering to support dementia patients and other elderly individuals in hospitals, consider the following steps.
Look for organisations like “Forget Me Not” in your area that offer volunteer opportunities in healthcare settings. Reach out to the organisation to express your interest in volunteering. They can provide details about their programs and the application process.
Most organisations will require volunteers to undergo training to ensure they are well-prepared for their roles. Determine how much time you can commit to volunteering and establish a regular schedule that works for you.
As a volunteer, embrace the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of elderly patients. Approach your role with compassion, empathy, and a willingness to learn.
Organisations like “Forget Me Not” are making a significant difference in the lives of patients and their families, while also strengthening community bonds and raising awareness about the challenges faced by seniors.
Volunteering in healthcare settings offers a rewarding experience for individuals looking to make a positive impact on the lives of others and contribute to the well-being of their community.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. The Australian Seniors Advisory Group has no working relationships with any hospital or volunteer care organisation.