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June 2013

Group of people jpegMinister for Health David Davis and Parliamentary Secretary for Health Georgie Crozier with 2013 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards judges West Gippsland Healthcare Group CEO Dan Weeks, Northern Metropolitan Medicare Local Board Member Janet Wood, Health Issues Centre Acting CEO Susan Biggar, Austin Health CEO Brendan Murphy and Consumer Volunteer Jacqui Gibbson. Other judges were Leadership Victoria Board Member Lynne Landy, Consumer Volunteer Janney Wale and Australian Red Cross Blood Service CEO Jennifer Williams.

Victoria’s volunteers honoured as thousands give their time and skills

Minister for Health David Davis has paid tribute to the thousands of dedicated volunteers who make a tireless contribution to public healthcare.

Speaking at the 2013 Minister for Health Volunteer Awards presentation at the MCG, Mr Davis thanked ‘all of our hard-working volunteers for the work they do every day helping patients and their loved ones and for the varied and important roles they play in the Victorian health system.

‘Every community in metropolitan, regional and rural Victoria has unsung heroes who give up their time and offer their skills to support patients, hospitals, health services and each other.

‘Their outstanding contribution helps people when they need it most and makes our health system so much better.’

Mr Davis said the awards, now in their fifth year, were established to celebrate and acknowledge the significant volunteer health assistance provided in communities across the state.

‘These extraordinary achievements by individuals and teams of volunteers are made by people who are dedicated and passionate about helping others.

‘The awards honour the vital role of volunteers and the impact they have on the quality of care to patients, clients, families and the community.’

The 2013 awards attracted 81 nominations from 52 different metropolitan, regional, rural and primary health services.

A total of 16 awards were presented.

Awardees were:

Outstanding individual achievement:

Regional health services:

•             Gordon Bell – Barwon Health. Gordon volunteers across the emergency, renal dialysis, acute and community rehabilitation departments as a patient transport driver. He transports patients to and from life-saving and life-enhancing medical and recreational appointments and staff to their vehicles safely after dark and provides much needed companionship to some of the region’s most isolated individuals.

•             Ken Hawkins – Barwon Health. Ken volunteers at the Belmont Community Rehabilitation Facility, a community-based residential recovery service that provides support for people who have experienced significant mental distress. He provides expert peer support counselling, as well as coaching, to aid people in their recovery journey, setting an example of the potential for recovery within the service.

Rural health services:

•             Cheryl Russell – Bass Coast Regional Health. Cheryl has been a meals-on-wheels volunteer since 1982. She first volunteered with Bass Coast Shire Council and continued on as a volunteer with Bass Coast Regional Health (BCRH) when it took over the program in 1996, delivering meals once a week.

•             Abby Noble – Mallee Track Health and Community Service. At 17, Abby assists with planned activity groups. This encompasses a variety of roles such as craft, meal serving and preparation, outings, cooking, or even just a one-on-one chat with the participants. She has been a role model and guiding light for other youth in the community.

Primary Health Service:

•             Yvonne Rosengarten – Jewish Care Victoria. Yvonne has been a volunteer for Jewish Care Victoria for more than 60 years. Now 90, she spends one day per week volunteering at Gary Smorgon House as a companion for lonely residents, paying special attention to isolated dementia clients. This is extremely challenging especially as the individuals she visits are often her peers.

•             Kiley Nicholls – Merri Community Health Services. Kiley has been a volunteer since 2003, initially volunteering her time on a camping trip which aimed to foster connectedness and inclusiveness for families of Arabic origin who have children with disabilities. The understanding and insight from this experience inspired Kiley to become a volunteer host. A volunteer host provides regular respite for families caring for a child with a disability in their own homes, as well as providing opportunities which maximise the child’s participation in the community.

Metropolitan Health Service:

•             Jenni O’Sullivan – Peninsula Health. Jenni’s person-centred care approach to a busy, often stressful environment exemplifies all the core values of the Assistance and Care in Emergency (ACE) volunteer program at Frankston and Rosebud emergency departments. Her optimistic attitude and cheerfulness, together with her willingness and availability has not only provided support for emergency department staff and the 100-strong volunteer program but has ensured optimal patient experience in the emergency departments.

•             Vera Dunscombe – Western Health. Vera is 97 and has been volunteering to support the Williamstown Hospital for more than 30 years. Vera and her two daughters volunteer at the Williamstown Hospital Opportunity Shop weekly. Long-term volunteers such as Vera are a great connection for the community.

Outstanding achievement by a team:

Regional health services:

•             Emergency Department Volunteers – Barwon Health. The team of 46 volunteers works 12 hours per day, 365 days per year to ease the anxiety and stress experienced by patients and their families in the ED. Volunteers offer companionship to patients who are alone, provide conversation and comfort to distressed families and friends, care for children to give parents a break and provide information on facilities or services within the hospital.

•             Palliative Care Unit Volunteers – Barwon Health. Within the McKellar Centre’s palliative care unit is a team of 11 specially-trained volunteers who provide extensive non-clinical and social support to patients, families and staff. The team has key areas of focus – information desk, happy hour, companionship and hand massage. The empathy and support to palliative care patients and their families provided by the team brings joy and relief.

Rural health services:

•             Swish and Swat – Hepburn Health Service. Swish and Swat (Supporting Women In Strengthening Health and Supporting Women Around Trentham) was formed in 2003 to address women’s health issues across the four major towns in the Hepburn Shire. The team consists of six or more local community members who enable individuals and groups to take a leading role in health promotion and to provide a local focus on health issues. The team has implemented a range of community strengthening strategies addressing isolation, frustration, anxiety, lack of information and support and feelings of helplessness.

•             Dining In Team – Kilmore and District Hospital. Two years ago, Caladenia nursing home introduced a regular special dinner to provide residents with the continued pleasure associated with dining with family and friends. A team of three volunteers have been involved since its inception. Residents are involved in choosing the cuisine, are waited on and are encouraged to engage in ongoing mealtime/evening conversation.

Primary Health Service:

•             OM:NI Representative’s Group – Council on the Ageing Victoria. Each member of the OM:NI (Older Men: New Ideas) Representative’s Group participates in and facilitates a local OM:NI group. During group sessions, a representative greets each group member, establishes the topic for discussion, ensures every attendee has respectful time to share their experiences, facilitates discussion and supports men to express their ideas and listen to others.

•             Community Social-bites Volunteer Team – Gateway Social Support Options The team ensures those who attend community social-bites luncheons are given a healthy, nutritious meal. It provides 120 meals from donated produce, not knowing what will be cooked until the luncheon morning or the day before. Although a qualified chef guides the team, the meals are prepared in the limited three-hour time allocated.

Metropolitan Health Service:

•             Falls Prevention and Wellbeing Team – Eastern Health. At the Peter James Centre in Burwood, an exceptional group of volunteers regularly works with frail and elderly patients who require individual therapies and assistance with meals and mobility. Assisting patients and reducing patient falls in hospital are important parts of what the team of volunteers do every day. The 24 volunteers are so professional and reliable that their help has been enlisted to assist with a research program focusing on falls prevention and patient wellbeing.

•             Palliative Care Volunteer Equipment Delivery Team – Mercy Health. The Palliative Care Equipment Delivery Service lends small items of medical equipment, such as wheelchairs and commodes, to patients. This vital service enables patients to remain in their own homes longer, avoiding hospitalisation or intervention and healthcare outside the home. It often enables people to choose to die at home, allowing patients to retain some independence and dignity in the final stages of their lives.