Australia’s largest in-home health and community care provider Silver Chain Group has launched a trial program to give older people new skills with technology so they can feel more engaged and less isolated during a future pandemic, emergency or lockdown.

Silver Chain’s Volunteer Manager Kerry Watts said older people who may be feeling lonely or isolated are being assisted by volunteers to maximise the use of their own technology devices.

“For many Western Australians, the pandemic has brought a range of changes to the way we communicate and interact and for some of our clients who are less confident using technology this can mean increased isolation,” Ms Watts said.

“With the COVID-19 and emergency preparation trial, our volunteers teach older people how to use their own devices to communicate with family and friends, access relevant emergency and news updates and to check in at venues and download their digital COVID-19 certificates.

“Our volunteers can also help identify any meaningful activities that the person wishes to join online.”

Following a successful roll-out in the Perth metropolitan region, the trial has been extended to include WA’s regional areas.

Silver Chain client Carolyn Cohen said she now felt more confident to use the functions on her phone during a potential lockdown.

“I am so grateful to be having these lessons with volunteer Kathleen, who is patient, kind and a good teacher. She has helped me enormously in transferring to a new iPhone and learning how to use it,” the Dunsborough resident said. 

“Kathleen showed me how to do a Coles online order so I can use that at any time in the future should I need to do so,” Ms Cohen said. 

Silver Chain’s 300 volunteers provide more than 5,000 home visits each year, covering more than 200,000 kilometres and providing almost 1,800 hours of service.

WA Executive Director Renae Lavell paid tribute to Silver Chain Group’s volunteers ahead of International Volunteer Day, 5 December 2021.

“Our volunteers play a significant part in the care that our organisation delivers to thousands of people across Western Australia,” Ms Lavell said. 

“Our view is that everyone has the right to live a healthy, safe and independent life in their own home and should enjoy the ability to stay active and connected with the community. Our volunteers support our clients to do just that.”

Are you interested in making a difference as a volunteer? Recruitment is ongoing in metropolitan and regional WA and you can find out more about volunteering HERE.