Caring About Memory Loss in Inverell
Caring for others, giving time, energy and enthusiasm is a job that may not appeal to everyone.
But for Sandy Jeffrey, this is the place in which she excels. Sandy has been with Inverell Home Support Services for six years, providing tailored programs for Inverell seniors with Memory Loss. When Sandy arrived in her position this service was simply a respite and carer support group, but much has happened since she took up the role.
Sandy believes in a person-centred approach and flexibility when caring for people who find themselves facing Memory Loss. ‘When someone is thinking about coming here, I ask them what they like doing and what were their hobbies when they were younger, so we try to have something in place for when they start.’ This individualised method provides many and varied activities for all participants within their own comfort level.
Over the course of six years, Sandy has grown the programs offered from the existing Respite and Support Group model to a variety of groups offering tailored programs where a need is evident. This Respite and Support Group is known as The Golden Club, which gives carers a time of respite from care while the person living with Memory Loss is given a delightful outing each week. Activities are structured around the person’s strengths and abilities. Some will choose to do craft, others will relax and read, another will listen to music or join in a board game, meanwhile someone else is playing darts or using the iPads. This is the individual choice given to each person. The opportunity to join in at community events or go out for lunch is also a part of the program.
Sandy quickly saw the need for some new groups, and her first addition was Train the Brain. ‘I just thought, what’s something we can do that might be a preventative? And that’s how I came up with Train the Brain.’ This program operates weekly for over 65’s. Train Your Brain asks seniors to consider giving their brain some exercise each week, not just their muscles. This is a tried and tested method to keep the brain fit and active. The Let’s Get Physical program came next. This was started when Sandy met with residents at Homes for the Aged. It was agreed that an exercise program would be welcomed for its social and well-being opportunities. Sandy’s next new program was the Ladies Social Butterfly group. ‘It just happened,’ she enthused. This was such an easy group to start, catering for single women 65 years and older who love to socialise, giving them an opportunity to meet for craft, chat and activities. Yet another service is the Companion Program which provides a social outing for people who are on their own. This service cares for the elderly in many and varied ways, whether it’s a friendly home visit or a phone call; a person to assist with shopping or a social outing; to helping with personal and home requirements; the Companion Program caters to this fundamental need.
Behind every great program is a dedicated staff and Sandy has a couple of tireless workers alongside her. The Dementia and Carer Support component of the Inverell Home Support Service employs Wendy King as the Dementia, Carer and Social Support Group Assistant Coordinator. Wendy brings friendly warmth into the Train the Brain program, Ladies Social Butterfly and the Companion Program. Kim Woodhead is the Bookkeeper for the organisation and the Policy and Procedures caretaker. When required, Kim will also relieve in Sandy’s programs always offering kindness and a good laugh to all.
An Army of Volunteers
It is this volunteer spirit that is the bedrock of Inverell Home Support Services. Volunteers are crucial in creating warmth, life and happiness for all aspects of the Dementia and Carer Support Service. ‘We highly rely on our volunteers,’ Sandy said, ‘Most of our volunteers are retired people who like to give back to the community.’ Some of our volunteers come in and help each week. Just 4 hours in a day once a month can make a world of difference to a frail, aged person. As little, or as much time as a person can spare is gratefully appreciated. And Sandy is certain that they look after their volunteers very well. ‘We have people who used to come once and month, now they come every week!’ Sandy said. Meals are always supplied, a uniform shirt is provided, volunteers can take advantage of free training that is on offer to enhance their skills and make new friends along the way. Even Police Checks are taken care of. What Sandy would like to see is a greater presence of young people volunteering for the organisation. ‘Older people love seeing the young people come in,’ she said. Young people, particularly those struggling to find work, can gain a lot of valuable experience just by giving a few hours of their time each week. Community involvement is highly regarded on a resume! There is simply nothing to lose and everything to gain by giving time to volunteer to help others.
This service really cares about people. Step inside this warm, welcoming and vibrant environment today.