'ESSENTIAL SERVICE': Meals on Wheels is struggling to continue service during the crisis.
'ESSENTIAL SERVICE': Meals on Wheels is struggling to continue service during the crisis. SCOTT POWICK

Community calls for help after volunteer workforce drops 70%

AGED care services in Killarney were dealt a devastating blow when more than 70 per cent of its volunteer workforce was lost to social distancing restrictions.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison imposed a lockdown on the elderly population at the end of March, fearing for their wellbeing during the spread of the coronavirus.

Killarney Memorial Aged Care chairman Lyndall McCormack said their absence left a significant gap in their services, particularly Meals on Wheels.

"Most of our volunteers were aged over 70, and many were aged over 80, and they can't be involved in distributing meals anymore, they need to protect themselves," Ms McCormack said.

"It's frustrating for them, because they feel like they're letting us down, but I'm sure they'll figure out a way to get back to work somehow or other.

"In the meantime, we need to find a way around this because we need to keep delivering."

The essential service offers both meals and a connection to the outside world, for those who may otherwise go without.

"It's a way of seeing people in our community, making sure they're still well and everything is okay," she said.

"You can't go into their houses anymore, but you can at least meet someone over the garden gate and have a nice, socially-distanced conversation.

"It's an opportunity to offer our elderly population a bit of reassurance, and let them know what's going on."

Attracting younger volunteers has traditionally been challenging for the organisation, but Ms McCormack remains hopeful.

"If people aren't in full-time employment at the moment this could offer them some routine and some social life, just like the workplace would," she said.

"It gives you a purpose, something to get up for in the morning, someone that will miss you if you don't come."

Time constraints or a lack of training need not be an issue, as Ms McCormack said the Aged Care is willing to be flexible.

"You can do a one-off thing, come just an hour a week, or you could come every morning, if you'd like," she said.

"We will find something for you to do."


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