Carers Week: Voluntary carers play a vital role

Rewarding: Illawarra Diggers Aged and Community Care volunteer carers Matthew Douglas and Maree Bishop spend time with resident Joyce Ingram.

Rewarding: Illawarra Diggers Aged and Community Care volunteer carers Matthew Douglas and Maree Bishop spend time with resident Joyce Ingram.

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When not spending his time caring for the residents at Illawarra Diggers Aged and Community Care residence, Chaplain Matthew Douglas travels around the world attending major sporting events.

Matthew has just returned from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in his newly-appointed role as Director of Sport Event Evangelism, with his next overseas venture attending the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

While Matthew travels the world, another Illawarra Diggers carer, Maree Bishop, gets great enjoyment having the opportunity to see tourist attractions around NSW while doing what she loves – caring for the elderly.

Matthew and Maree are just two of the much-valued voluntary carers at the Corrimal complex, who spend quality time talking and listening to residents on a one-on-one basis.

Illawarra Diggers’ CEO Peter Whittall said the voluntary carers played a vital role in the lives of the 96 residents.

“While the staff are fantastic at their job looking after and caring for the residents there is simply not always time for them to sit and yarn,” he said. “We very much appreciate and value all our carers.”

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Matthew, who has lived in the ‘Gong for the last six years said, “As a trained religious chaplain, I get the opportunity to talk to the residents about a variety of things, and importantly they are willing to share with me big issues such as death and declining health.”

Matthew said his role was not only to help the residents but also family members who he often counsels right through to the eventual passing of their loved one.

Maree, who has a friendly and warm personality, first came to Diggers six years ago to visit an elderly gentleman who she had been told was lonely and had no family.

“Although he passed away two years ago I still come twice a week, including going on bus trips each Wednesday,” she said.

“I love the volunteer work as although I have no formal training I know that I’m good at talking and listening.”

If you are interested in being a volunteer carer at Illawarra Diggers call 4283 2533.

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