Connecting elderly with Wanaka community

Connecting elderly with Wanaka community. Photo: supplied

From Wanaka Sun (page 2) 6 - 12 April 2017

Connecting elderly with community

The Champion for Older Person group is linking senior members of the community with regular visitors.

The companionship service is coordinated by Barbara Jungen on behalf of Community Networks.

Barbara said the group had identified a need in the community for companionship for older people.

“We have older people in our community feeling lonely and isolated. We saw a need to have a locally based visiting service for older people. Having a regular visitor can make a real difference to their health and happiness,” Barbara said.

Community Networks initially secured funding from the Elsie and Ray Armstrong Charitable Trust to run a pilot project to develop a companionship scheme.

Further funding was received from local groups such as Rotary, Presbyterian Synod and the Lake Hawea Fishing Competition. 4

The project commenced in June 2016 and Barbara recruits volunteers who are prepared to visit a senior once a week on a regular basis.

The volunteers are interviewed, police checked and go through an induction/training before they are matched to a senior.

As part of the volunteers training the group held a talk by Donna Watt from the Alzheimer Support about understanding the early signs of memory loss, and supporting independence and quality of life.

The talk was opened to the public and 27 people attended. The programme currently has 15 registered seniors and 14 volunteers, but the group is looking for more volunteers both male and female.

“Seniors can refer themselves or get referred by agencies and medical centres. I visit each senior first, chatting to them about their background, hobbies and current health.

Once a senior and volunteer are matched up I accompany the volunteer on the first visit,” Barbara said.

Participants decide how they spend their time together, whether that is an outing or a home visit.

For further details about the service, to become a volunteer, or to refer a senior, contact Barbara Jungen via email at or Community Networks at 443 7799.

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