Why you should volunteer in aged care or disability support

Posted on Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Volunteers putting hands on top of one another

Not-for-profit organisations employ thousands of people across Australia. But they also rely on the generosity of volunteers to help do all those good things for the community.

Volunteers are incredibly valuable for these organisations, and nowhere more so than aged care and disability support providers.

Here, volunteers help get things done. But most importantly, they make clients smile.

If you’ve thought about volunteering but still need convincing, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are 5 reasons why you should volunteer for an aged care or disability support provider in 2019.

To make a social contribution

Woman sitting on white garden chair on green grass

64% of people who volunteer do so to help others or their community, and volunteering in aged care or disability support gives you a meaningful opportunity to do just that.

According to the Australian Ageing Agenda, 41% of new aged care clients say they feel lonely. Similarly, in the UK it’s estimated that almost half of working-age disabled people always or often feel lonely.

In fact, some Aussie politicians have even suggested appointing a Minister of Loneliness to help tackle the health implications associated with social isolation.

For older people and those living with a disability, companionship and social interaction can be life changing.  In residential aged care homes and supported disability houses, volunteers often come in purely to provide social engagement, including one-on-one visits, playing board games or providing cultural support.

Since furry companions make people smile too, some volunteers even bring in their pets to visit.

To show off your skills

Brightwater staff member working at cafe smiling

Many people volunteer because they’ve got a particular set of skills. We’re not sure if Liam Neeson does – but he should!

Perhaps you’re a personal trainer with a little extra time up your sleeve. Seniors and people living with a disability need to be more careful when exercising, and your expert know-how and companionship will do a world of good for their wellbeing.

Or maybe you’re a masseuse or manicurist. Everyone loves a bit of pampering, and it’s a great opportunity to trade your skills for smiles!

And if you’re a musician, dancer, comedian or even a mime, what better way to practise your craft than by giving the gift of entertainment?

To improve your wellbeing

Man in suit with yellow smiling face

In the pursuit of doing good for others, you can do a whole lot of good for yourself.

In a 2010 report from Volunteering Australia, 95% of volunteers said that for them, volunteering was associated with feelings of personal wellbeing. In fact, they even said that just a few hours of volunteering made a difference to their happiness and mood.

In another survey, volunteers reported a range of health benefits after participating in a casual volunteer role over 12 months. The volunteers benefited from an 11% increase in social wellbeing, a 9% increase in physical health, a 7% increase in life satisfaction and a 4% decrease in depression.

With so many benefits for both you and the community, volunteering really is a win-win situation.

To discover a new perspective

Disability client with maroon cap and shirt smiling

Everyone’s path is different.

People in aged care homes and supported disability houses come from all walks of life, with different backgrounds, personalities and aspirations.

Some of us have might have lived a long life full of extraordinary stories. Some of us might have always been a little different. Some of us might have lived relatively ‘normal’ lives - until an accident changed everything.

Volunteering in aged care or disability support gives you the chance to see past the circumstance and really get to know the person. Life looks different for all of us, and volunteering lets you step into someone else’s shoes and share their perspective for a little while.

To boost your career

Close up of elderly man's hands holding a small ball

It makes total sense that volunteering looks good on a resume.

According to Deloitte, 82% of employers said they prefer applicants with volunteer experience. With that said, only 32% of job seekers mention it in their resumes.

Lots of volunteering roles provide training, so even though it’s not work experience as such – it is. Volunteering can teach you skills like teamwork, communication, task management and problem solving, which all employers look for.

And if you plan to work in aged care or disability support one day, volunteering is a great way to see what the sector is like, giving you first-hand experience before you look for paid employment.

Get started today

In 2014, 31% of Australians aged over 15 volunteered for an organisation. A mighty fine effort indeed!

Do your bit to add to the stat. At Brightwater, we provide aged care and disability support services in 22 homes across Perth. We rely on the kindness and generosity of hundreds of volunteers, including in our research centre.

To find out more about volunteering at Brightwater, click here.