The Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) is funded by the Australian government and plays a vital role in providing companionship for older people living in a government-subsidised residential aged care home, or living in their own home and waitlisted or receiving a Home Care Package. The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) wholeheartedly endorses the support the CVS provides to older people, and we provide resources to boost the value of what CVS volunteers can offer to their care recipients.
If you are a member of the CVS Volunteer Visitors Team – thank you! Offering friendship to an older person experiencing social isolation to enhance their quality of life and help them to feel more connected with their community is truly worthwhile, both for the older person and yourself.
Every older person has the right to know who they can turn to for support or advocacy. If you see or are informed about a situation that doesn’t look right, you should never ignore it. The Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) National Guidelines are clear regarding advocacy:
It is not the role of a CVS volunteer visitor to advocate for the care recipient. The visitor should notify their CVS coordinator if this situation arises. The visitor may also give advice about the advocacy services available to the care recipient.
What to do if you’re concerned about your care recipient
Older people can be reluctant to disclose if they’re unhappy with a service or not being well treated well. Maybe they have no family to inform or don’t want to upset family members, are ashamed or embarrassed, or fear loss of independence or retaliation. They may simply not know where to turn. But, as a regular visitor, you’re well placed to see if your care recipient needs extra support.
While the guidelines state that you can’t advocate for the older person yourself, you can still let the older person know about OPAN and how to contact us. So if you see something that doesn’t seem right, speak up:
- Inform your CVS Program Coordinator as soon as possible.
- Make sure the older person you’re supporting knows about OPAN and how to contact OPAN. Be prepared with the Elder Help app.
‘OPAN, aged care advocacy and CVS’ will help you understand aged care advocacy services
We have developed free training, ‘OPAN, aged care advocacy and CVS’, especially to help CVS volunteers link older people with the advocacy services they’re entitled to – without overstepping their role. It covers:
- Who is OPAN?
- What is advocacy and the service delivery organisations (SDOs)?
- Charter of Aged Care Rights
- Aged Care Quality Standards
- What is Elder Abuse?
- OPAN’s Elder Help app
- Where to go for further support
Become a CVS volunteer (if you haven’t already)
Volunteering as a community visitor can be a rewarding experience. By befriending an older person, you can make a positive difference to their lives as well as your own. Aged care recipients come from various social and cultural backgrounds, and volunteers from all backgrounds are welcome.
If you think it’s for you, contact the Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) network member in your state or territory.
Wide range of valuable resources for CVS volunteers
Visit the Community Visitors Scheme (CVS) webpage on the Commonwealth Department of Health website for further information and resources about CVS – and make sure you check out the OPAN resources below.
OPAN resources for CVS volunteers
More valuable information
- The Industry Code for Visiting Resident Aged Care Homes during COVID-19
Developed to ensure residential aged care homes have a nationally consistent and compassionate visitation policy during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Charter of Aged Care Rights
The rights that OPAN upholds, on the My Aged Care website.
- COVID-19 infection control training
Available from the Department of Health for health care workers in all settings, covering the fundamentals of infection prevention and control for COVID-19.
- Dementia Training Australia
Offering a range of dementia training, education and resources to improve the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia and the staff who support them.
- Understanding Dementia
A free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) offering university-quality education about the latest in dementia research and care.
- Communicating with older people who have diverse needs
A range of information about identifying with specific communication needs in older people from Victoria’s Department of Health & Human Services.
- LGBTI: Inclusion and Awareness in Aged Care
An educational video for the aged care sector and LGBTI communities.
- Introduction to LGBTI people
A free training module by Dementia Training Australia that is part of the broader course Caring for LGBTI people with dementia.