MAKING MEANINGFUL CONNECTIONS

If the COVID pandemic and lockdowns have taught us anything, it’s that humans need companionship to combat social isolation and loneliness. For more than 20 years, the Logan Community Visitors Service has been doing exactly that.

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The Logan Area Committee on the Ageing (LACOTA) who operate Logan Central Community Centre, is dedicated to keeping seniors connected, whether it’s through their on-site activities program of crafts, exercise, sports and social get togethers, or through their Logan Community Visitors Service, which provides companionship and friendship to vulnerable older Australians in aged care.

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Sam Prior, Coordinator at Logan Community Visitors, said the Community Visitors program connected volunteers with older people living in nursing homes, arranging regular visits where volunteers and seniors can spend time chatting and getting to know one another, with the goal of creating lasting friendships and hopefully, reducing some of the loneliness older people can experience when they move from the family home to a nursing home.

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“Our CVS program is about finding and matching volunteers with people in aged care,” Sam said.

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“Hopefully, those regular visits can turn into a long-lasting relationship for someone who doesn’t have any family, or who doesn’t get visitors.

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“We’ve had some great stories from the program. One of our volunteers, a young woman in Beaudesert, was visiting an elderly lady who was depressed and who hadn’t been out of bed for months. Since getting regular visits, and creating a friendship, she’s now up and about and they spend time together walking in the garden.

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“It’s about being a true friend to these people. We have a volunteer who was a builder and he’s matched with an elderly gentleman in a nursing home who was a plumber, so they get together and talk ‘bloke’ stuff.

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“We’d love to have more men involved because a lot of the older men in nursing homes really prefer to chat to another man.

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“A lot of people don’t realise just how much they’re doing for that person who’s living in aged care, and who’s feeling lonely and depressed. Moving to a nursing home can cause significant depression because a lot of older people view it as the end of the line/road

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“The program is about trying to break that depression, especially for people who don’t get visitors.”

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Sam said that the organisation had lost a few volunteers during the pandemic, and new volunteers are always encouraged to apply to join the program.

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“We want to have as many volunteers as we can. Applicants for the program undergo a police check, and then we have a chat with them to make sure they’ve got good conversational skills. You need to have the gift of the gab so you can go into the nursing homes and have conversations.

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“We currently have about 25 volunteers, and another 12 recruits that we’re still matching, and the goal would be to have around 70 or 80 volunteers. The more we have, the better it is for people in nursing homes.

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“It’s one of the good programs that has stood the test of time and has been going for more than 20 years.”

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LACOTA is currently working with the Public Trustee on an educational film aimed and helping young people to understand the choices they’ll need to make as an older person, including the importance of having a will, aged care and more, and features a number of seniors who’ll share their stories. Once filming wraps in the next couple of weeks, Sam said LACOTA will host a lunch and a screening for all participants.

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They also offer the Aged Care Navigator service for Logan, helping seniors to better understand a wide range of issues from where and how to get assistance, to aged care packages, and run plenty of fun, social activities including belly dance classes, Zumba, yoga, a craft group, a garden group, an orchid society, an indoor bowls group and even a ukulele group, all of which attract good numbers.

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To find out more about the classes at LACOTA or to register your interest as a Community Visitor, visit www.lacota.org.au or call 07 3290 0088.

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LACOTA (Logan Central Community Centre) offers:

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• Physical, creative and social classes and events

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• An onsite Justice of the Peace

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• An annual picnic and Christmas party

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• Aged Care Navigator services

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• Community Visitor Service

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