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October 2014

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Simpkin House volunteer Jim Byers feeding a resident as part of the Meal Mates program.

Mealtimes mates

Residents in Bendigo Health aged care facilities are being doubly-advantaged by the Meal Mates program.

A resident gains the company of a volunteer to assist during mealtime and nursing staff can spend more time on other duties.

The Meal Mates program is a partnership between Bendigo Health residential services, volunteers, dieticians and speech pathologists and is overseen by nursing and clinical staff.

Program volunteers completed a workshop showing them the importance of independence, diet, nourishment for those with eating difficulties.

Jim Byers is a volunteer at Simpkin House and is credited with coming up the idea for the Meal Mates program.

Other facilities are Joan Pinder Nursing Home and Stella Anderson Nursing Home.

Residents are restricted in the number of meals they have with family and friends.

They have reported they enjoy the time they spend with the volunteers and are eating more and better.

Bendigo Health has more than 300 volunteers in a variety of roles – administrative assistance, aged care, emergency, meet and greet, palliative care, transit lounge and transport. 

They usually commit to half-a-day a week for a 12-month period.

All volunteers are given a uniform and extensive preparation orientation before they begin and are provided with day-to-day supervision and support.