Director, Consumer Support Section
assistant Director, ACVVS
[Opening visual of slide with text saying ‘Australian Government with Crest (logo)’, ‘Department of Health and Aged Care’, ‘Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme (ACVVS)’, ‘Webinar for Home Care Package Providers & Residential Aged Care Providers’, ‘Kirsten Turner, Director, Consumer Support section’, ‘Craig Mastersson, Assistant Director, ACVVS’]
[The visuals during this webinar are of each speaker presenting in turn via video, with reference to the content of a PowerPoint presentation being played on screen]
Good afternoon everyone and thank you all for attending today’s session on the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme or ACVVS. I’m Kirsten Turner from the Department of Health and Aged Care and I’ll be co-hosting this event with my colleague Craig Mastersson.
I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we are virtually meeting today. I’m based on Canberra lands on the lands of the Ngunnawal people and the Ngambri people. I’d like to pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging. I would also like to extend that acknowledgment and respect to any Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are here with us today.
There will be a Q&A session at the end of the webinar. You can log questions on the Slido box on the right hand side of your screen. If you can’t see Slido you can also access it via a link in the chat on the bottom right of your screen.
We will turn the chat off in a few minutes. We will attempt to respond to as many questions as possible at the end of the webinar. All questions and answers including ones that we may not get to will be available after the webinar and emailed to you. Questions submitted during the registration process have also been considered for the Q&A session. There is no option for attendees to turn on their video or microphone however this session will be recorded and uploaded onto the website along with the slides.
So to begin the ACVVS is an expanded model of the existing Community Visitors Scheme or CVS. The CVS is a highly valued and longstanding scheme which has been in place for 30 years as of this year with some volunteers contributing their time across the whole 30 years. ACVVS provides friendship and companionship by matching volunteer visitors to make regular visits to older people who are socially isolated or lonely, who also receive residential or home care services, including care recipients approved or on the National Priority System for residential or home care packages. ACVVS provides face to face visits bringing company and conversation to people who may not get a lot of other visitors.
The change of the name ACVVS and expansion is in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety recommendation 44.c and that recommendation is on the screen before you.
The Royal Commission recognised the importance and value of the CVS bringing substantial benefits to volunteers and older people alike. ACVVS will continue to provide the valued and highly important support service with an expansion of available places across Australia and with a focus of ensuring the scheme is best practice and sustainable.
So what is ACVVS? It’s a free service with volunteers recruited, screened and trained by the ACVVS auspice or community organisation. ACVVS volunteer visitors also support you as a provider to meet the Aged Care Quality Standards including quality standard 1, to treat consumers with dignity and respect and support them to exercise choice and independence, and quality standard 7 in which organisations are expected to recognise the consumer’s social networks and support each consumer to choose their social activities and these can include volunteers and visitors.
Further in the new Aged Care Act Consultation Paper Statement of Principles proposed principle 11 states that an effective aged care system should be supported by a trained and appropriately skilled workforce including volunteers with aged care workers empowered to contribute to the delivery of high quality care. The proposed definition of high quality care includes supporting the person to participate in cultural, recreational and social activities and remain connected and able to contribute to their community and ACVVS supports this.
Generally ACVVS volunteers should be considered by aged care providers to be a relationship of choice in a similar manner to a friend or a family member visiting to provide companionship to the care recipient on a casual basis. ACVVS volunteers should also be provided access to visit their friend as per the CODA Australia Industry Code for visiting in aged care homes. Under these industry codes ACVVS volunteers can also be registered as an essential named visitor if the resident desires. You can refer to the ACVVS National Guidelines 3.3.1 for further information.
Under the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme auspices recruit, train and match volunteers with aged care persons including those on the National Priority System or have been approved for or are in receipt of Government residential aged care or a home care package. ACVVS has a unique focus of supporting older people in developing friendships with volunteers from their community and seeks to match people based on their preferences, interests, language and background. ACVVS provides one on one in-person volunteer visits and can also provide group visits to recipients of an Australian Government subsidised residential aged care. The recommended maximum ratio of volunteer to recipients is one volunteer to three ACVVS recipients for a group visit.
ACVVS is a face to face service with the intended outcomes of the program being to provide friendship and companionship to eligible older people who are socially isolated. In exceptional circumstances visits can be made through telephone calls, writing letters or virtual visits if the in‑person visits are not possible for the short term. For recipients of either a home care package or residential aged care a virtual visit may occur in exceptional circumstances where a one on one in‑person visit cannot occur due to issues including but not limited to geographical distance between the recipient and volunteer, illness, aged care home lockdowns and a recipient specifically requesting a non-contact visitor volunteer.
The Department of Health and Aged Care undertook an open competitive grant round in late 2022 to facilitate the awarding of grant funding for the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme. A total of 141 community organisations also known as auspices have been funded to provide 18,163 ACVVS placements across Australia.
Funding is allocated by placements and the aged care planning region. The distribution of ACVVS placements equated to approximately 5% of the total aged care recipients in the respective aged care planning region. The table on the screen shows the placements available by state.
Eligible aged care recipients can be referred to ACVVS for a volunteer visitor. Referrals can be made by the aged care service provider, by a family member, friends, and even the older person themselves can request a volunteer visitor. A request for a volunteer visitor can be made via the Departmental website as shown on the screen. The referral will be sent to the network member for that state or territory. The network member will then refer the request to the most appropriate ACVVS community organisation auspice in that area. Referrals can also be made directly to your ACVVS community organisations providing service in your area if you already have an existing referral relationship. The name and contact details for the network members for each state and territory are available on the ACVVS website under ‘Contacts’.
ACVVS volunteer screening and access. Community organisations will provide a letter to the residential or home care provider confirming the completion of the ACVVS volunteer’s police check. The ACVVS volunteer police check is requested and held by the community organisation to whom the volunteer is engaged by.
ACVVS community organisations provide advice of the volunteer’s national police clearance status to home care and residential aged care providers prior to ACVVS visits commencing.
ACVVS volunteers are not required to undertake NDIS screening unless there is engagement with NDIS recipients. And the ACVVS National Guidelines on the ACVVS website provide detailed advice around ACVVS volunteer screening requirements. Please refer to section 3.6.7.
The ACVVS National Guidelines will be updated as required throughout the grant period to reflect any changes that may occur with the implementation of the new Aged Care Act, changes to screening processes and/or the implementation of the new Support at Home Program and the subsequent redefining of the ACVVS eligibility criteria.
Any existing friendships at time of change implementation will be grandfathered and remain in the ACVVS program.
Residential aged care home providers are encouraged to permit access to ACVVS volunteers after 5:00pm on a weekday and on weekends as many of our ACVVS volunteers have standard business hour working commitments as well.
Key contacts for providers. A network member has been appointed for every state and territory. The network member role description will include the following duties as a minimum which include facilitating the links between the ACVVS community organisations and the Department, providing advocacy support to auspices to ensure volunteer access to residential aged care homes, delivering peak body services for the auspices, awareness and consideration of ACVVS service delivery for all diverse complex vulnerability and cultural groups and providing support, mentoring and information to auspice coordinators. Please refer to the full ACVVS network member role description which is available at the ACVVS National Guidelines section 5.2.
Each community organisation must nominate an auspice coordinator to manage their ACVVS service delivery within their aged care planning region. Please note some of the community organisations may have multiple coordinators if servicing multiple aged care planning regions for states. The auspice coordinator role description will include the following duties as a minimum. Their role is to promote, raise and increase awareness of ACVVS to aged care providers and the broader community, recruit, train and support ACVVS volunteers, contact potential ACVVS recipients within seven calendar days of the receipt of a referral, and maintain a high level of communication and positive relationships with aged care providers and recipients. The full ACVVS coordinator role description is also included in the National Guidelines. Please refer section 5.3.
The most vital role of the ACVVS is our volunteers. The role of the ACVVS volunteer is to provide regular friendship and companionship to eligible aged care recipients who are socially isolated. The ACVVS volunteer role description is also detailed with the minimum following duties. Working within policies and procedures as set out by the auspice, participating in and completing training modules to ensure a safe and happy visiting experience for both the volunteer and the aged care recipient.
The volunteer is required to adhere to the residential aged care home conditions of entry and rules when visiting the home for the purpose of ACVVS visits and visiting a designated care recipient of aged care services on a regular basis noting a minimum of fortnightly visits is encouraged. The ACVVS KPI for grant funding requires a minimum of 20 ACVVS volunteer visits per aged care recipient be delivered each year. The full role description is available at the ACVVS National Guidelines 5.1.
Residential aged care homes and home care package providers are required to provide a site induction for ACVVS volunteers reflective of the friendship service the ACVVS volunteer will be providing. The ACVVS National Guidelines outline the ACVVS volunteer visitor role including tasks that the ACVVS volunteer cannot do. Some of the tasks that cannot be undertaken by an ACVVS volunteer include providing nursing and personal care to a care recipient, assessing a care recipient’s personal care records, replacing nursing activities or therapy staff. For more information please refer to section 3.6.3 of the ACVVS National Guidelines for more information.
Once again residential aged care homes are encouraged to permit access for ACVVS volunteers after 5:00 on weekdays and on the weekends.
ACVVS volunteers are trained by their own community organisation. To assist the community organisation to provide quality training the Department has created a community of practice for the ACVVS coordinators. The community of practice is a web-based collaborative environment for communication, connection and conducting community activities including sharing of solved problems and knowledge on the cultivation of best practice and the fostering of innovation. The extensive training resources on the community of practice are available to all ACVVS community organisations to provide onboarding and ongoing training modules for volunteers and volunteer managers. This includes training for subjects such as privacy and confidentiality, code of conduct and SIRs training.
Residential and home care providers are required to provide a site entry induction for ACVVS volunteers but residential and home care providers are not required to provide other training to ACVVS volunteers. To ensure the sustainability of the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme the Department is undertaking activities including an ACVVS awareness and marketing campaign. This campaign will be guided by the volunteer communication market research study which commenced in June 2023 and will be completed in the coming months.
Additionally the Department has engaged Monash University to undertake an evaluation of the Aged Care Volunteer Visitors Scheme. This evaluation will focus on the effectiveness of the ACVVS social support interventions in improving quality of life for participants through the reduction of social isolation and loneliness including for aged care recipients from diverse, complex vulnerability and cultural groups. It will also focus on the cost effectiveness of how ACVVS interventions impact on health, mental health and aged care service usage, and additionally to the extent to which ACVVS has achieved its intended program outcomes.
On this slide we have listed some key information contacts and would encourage you to visit the ACVVS website. We would now like to invite any ACVVS questions. And just a reminder the Q&A function is available. You can lodge your questions in the Slido box on the right hand side of your screen. If you can’t see Slido you can also access it via the link in the chat on the bottom right of your screen.
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Key Contacts’, ‘ACVVS website’, with image of QR code, ‘ACVVS national guidelines’, with image of QR code, ‘ACVVS program manager – Craig Mastersson’, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’, ‘Webinar – 24 August 2023’]
[Visual of slide with text saying ‘Questions?’]
Thank you Craig. So we do have some questions that have been submitted to Slido that we’ll address and then we also have some pre-submitted questions that were provided. Many of those I hope you feel were answered in this session but we can just touch on those as well. So the first question in the Slido is:
Q; We’re a multicultural, not for profit organisation focusing on Chinese seniors and aim to enrich our seniors’ ageing life in Australia. Would love to know how to be part of the ACVVS with volunteers.
So as Craig noted there we do encourage you to visit the ACVVS website. There are referral forms for both volunteers and there’s referral forms for the older person to receive a volunteer as well. The network member information is up there for you to make contact if you need to. In saying that I do note that the grant round in which we recruited ACVVS community organisations has now closed.
We also had a question regarding:
Q: What’s the difference between a visitor and a volunteer?
So that’s a good question. I can see the moderator is right onto it. Thank you guys. You can see the volunteer roles in the ACVVS website and the Guidelines. I would also point you to the industry standards which do talk about volunteers and visitors. The volunteer is recruited for the service and so they do require screening and training for their role. So for the ACVVS volunteers they undertake the police check as well as further screening and training that the community organisations provide. Craig did you have anything you wanted to add to that?
Yes. Thank you Kirsten. So ACVVS volunteers once completed their national police clearances and their training they then undertake visits with their matched aged care recipients. So effectively they engage in a friendship. And on the ACVVS website we have some fantastic short videos which really showcase some of the amazing friendships that already exist within the program.
Great. Thanks Craig.
Another question’s come up.
Q: Does ACVVS volunteers training also need to cover some of the NDIS requirements for consumers in residential aged care facilities?
So ACVVS is provided to older people who are in receipt of Commonwealth funded aged care services, in-home care or residential care. So the older person does need to be eligible under that. It’s not an NDIS service per se. It’s an aged care service. In saying that the slide that Craig brought up before on training does include a lot of training. We have core modules in there that we expect people to complete but there’s also additional modules around diversity, disability, all types of things. And so if a volunteer wants to receive additional training that’s available to them as well.
So we had another question.
Q: Can HAC PYP recipients receive these services?
So once again I would point you to the eligibility for ACVVS which is Commonwealth funded aged care services, for the person to be in receipt of that.
We had another question about:
Q: What is the main difference between ACVVS and the Care Finder Program?
Look that’s a great question. So ACVVS does provide one on one visits with a volunteer to an older person who is lonely or isolated to provide companionship. Care Finders is an important program that provides face to face support and information to people to help them navigate and access aged care. So it’s in addition to the other aged care channels which are available which is the My Aged Care Online, the Contact Centre and the Aged Care Specialist Officers. And I would also encourage you to visit the Departmental website to find more about the Care Finder Program.
So I’m just going up to the top again. So we have another question.
Q: What happens to the volunteers who were recruited under the CVS scheme and are currently visiting clients in aged care homes?
So I’ll hand over to Craig for this one.
Thank you. So CVS finished its program on the 30th of June this year, 2023, with the commencement of ACVVS on 1 July 2023. All existing CVS friendships were offered transition across to the ACVVS program. Any existing friendships were grandfathered across. The Department undertook a significant transition program. But if you have anyone who is still receiving a volunteer visit and you feel they’re not supported by an ACVVS community organisation please reach out to your state network member because there is ongoing support and service available for those volunteers who are undertaking those visits. The Department is very keen to ensure those friendships and visits continue.
Great. Thanks Craig. We had an additional question here.
Q: Do you currently have any services for deaf people around Australia?
So deafness and hard of hearing is a diversity group that’s recognised under ACVVS. The ACVVS program is quite unique in that the ACVVS community services spend a great deal of time seeking to match volunteer visitors and the older persons really well based on background, life experiences and language. So I’d encourage you to reach out to your local network member and they will be able to refer to the most appropriate community organisation to meet your needs.
So we had another question.
Q: If there is high demand for volunteer visitors how will demand be met? Will increased funding be allocated?
So I’ll hand over to you Craig.
Apologies Kirsten. I was reading another question.
That’s okay. I can answer this one if you want.
No. That’s okay. So ACVVS has provided increased funding for placements in line with the Royal Commission recommendation and the Department as part of the new ACVVS program have the community organisations providing bi-monthly vacancy reporting so that we can ensure that we are able to address where referrals are required. So we anticipate that at this time we should be able to cover the referrals that are coming in.
Great. Thank you Craig.
We had another question.
Q: How will the care home be able to identify someone as being an ACVVS volunteer?
So the ACVVS community organisation coordinator will work with the residential aged care home regarding the volunteer and provide notice and also the police check and note that the police check has been undertaken so that the residential facility is aware that an ACVVS volunteer will be visiting a resident in the facility.
And our community of practice portal offers templates to support the community organisations in their work and one of those is a matching template that a community organisation can use and that is just to give the provider an overview of these are the visitations that are undergoing at present in their facility. That is on top of the notification of each individual volunteer that their national police clearance and training has been completed.
Great. Thanks Craig.
Then we had another question here.
Q: Given the requirement for 20 visits per ACVVS participant can this be split across two volunteers rather than one?
So we do seek to match volunteers and the older person to develop a friendship. I think the strength of that relationship is very important noting that could be split across two people. I don’t know if you have any additional thoughts about that as well Craig.
Yeah. I think ideally I agree with Kirsten. We would seek to have a single person undertake the visits to achieve the program objective of friendship. And there is the flexibility within the program and we have some wonderful examples of volunteers. So we encourage fortnightly visits but the requirement is only effectively 20 out of the year. And that can also include for instance we do know that sometimes our volunteers, they’ll go away, and obviously they can’t undertake their face to face visit on that occasion so they do it either via virtual or they’ll send a postcard from their location.
Yep. Great. Thank you.
There was another question here about a provider who was partnering with the Red Cross community visitors scheme and the moderator’s addressed that noting that the Red Cross is still delivering ACVVS but not in all sites that they were previously. So we’d encourage you to reach out to your state network member.
Q: Can we utilise ACVVS volunteers for our home care clients?
Yes. If a client is receiving a home care package they’re eligible for the service.
We have another question.
Q: Can volunteers assist consumers with discussions with the provider about the services that they receive?
Did you want – I’ll hand over to you Craig for this. We’ll tag team.
Okay. Thank you. So the ACVVS National Guidelines clearly outline the things that the volunteers can and can’t do. There is further guidance there as to what can and can’t occur. The volunteer can certainly support their friend if they have concerns and they can guide them where they need to go and seek additional assistance through the likes of the Older Persons Advocacy Network. But at the end of the day the focus is on the ACVVS volunteer providing a friendship service. They’re not there to ensure that their aged care service is at the required level. That’s not the role of the ACVVS volunteer.
Great. Thank you Craig. Absolutely.
Scrolling to the top we have a question.
Q: Do veterans getting aged care home support from DVA have access to ACVVS?
So anyone receiving Commonwealth aged care services, in-home care or residential care is eligible for ACVVS. So I would consider that they would also be eligible.
There’s a question here about training but our moderator’s answered that. So we encourage you to go to the community of practice. There’s a question.
Q: Is it correct that CHSP recipients are not eligible for this service?
That’s correct. It is just home care and residential aged care, people in residential aged care homes at this stage.
We had a question.
Q: If a consumer wants to give a gift to a volunteer any protocol that needs to be followed?
I’ll hand over to you for this one if you want Craig.
Thank you Kirsten. So with regards to that all ACVVS volunteers are engaged by a community organisation. The community organisations are responsible to ensure that they have comprehensive policies and procedures to cover all aspects of the service that they’re providing on behalf of the Department. So the expectation is that the volunteer would be aware of what they can and can’t receive with regards to that.
Great. Thank you.
There’s another question.
Q: Is there a tool or specific criteria used to assess social isolation or loneliness or is a person able to simply articulate they’re lonely or socially isolated?
So currently under the ACVVS eligibility it is an identified need from the older person themselves that they are feeling lonely or isolated. We are aware of course of different methodologies for measuring loneliness and social isolation and Monash University who we’ve engaged for the evaluation of ACVVS are experts in that so we’re seeking their advice as part of that evaluation.
So we had another question.
Q: Are you aware that some home care providers are not referring people to ACVVS? I understand that some home care providers pay for community visiting out of their clients’ home care package funding. Will you be working with home care providers to address this?
So there are different schemes for social supports in aged care. It’s not just ACVVS. Really it should come down to the older person’s preference about what services they receive, whether it’s a group social support, individual social support or a support like ACVVS. At the beginning I did highlight that providers need to be ensuring that they’re meeting the quality standards and we also have those principles which are being raised under the new Aged Care Act. So I’d encourage providers to ensure that they’re meeting those requirements under the Aged Care Quality Standards.
So we had a similar question about:
Q: What happens to the volunteers who were recruited under the CVS scheme?
So I think we’ve addressed that one.
I do believe that’s all the questions. We’ve got some more popping up.
Q: Can a volunteer visit more than one person in a facility?
I’ll hand over to you Craig.
Yeah. Thank you Kirsten. So under the Grant Opportunity Guidelines for which the grant was offered the Department has made the maximum recommended ratio of one volunteer to three recipients. The reason for that is to ensure that the objective of the program is achieved in establishing friendships. So for example if a volunteer was conducting a bingo session with 15 people that is not an ACVVS service. But at the same time we do encourage the small groups because that may help aged care recipients to build those social connections. But the recommended maximum is one volunteer to three ACVVS recipients. And it’s only applicable for residential aged care homes. Group visits are not on offer for home care providers.
Great. Thank you. Thanks Craig. We had another question as well.
Q: How will the webinar recording be made available?
It will be made available on the Department’s website and the slides already are available there in the link that was provided at the start of the session as well.
There’s also a survey at the end of the webinar that we’d encourage you to fill out and that is to articulate how you found the webinar so that we can learn from this for future sessions as well.
So we’ve had another question come through.
Q: How do we locate the areas that the volunteers operate in? For example is this service available on Phillip Island?
Craig I’ll hand over to you for that one.
Thanks Kirsten. So placement fundings have been allocated by aged care planning regions across Australia. To assist people identify where a service is available and who’s available you can actually go on the ACVVS website and see all of our providers by state-based information. And noting that some of those providers whilst maybe for instance offering a service in Queensland will not be offering the service state-wide but it is a good indication. The next step if you’re looking for a particular service within a particular area, you can either complete a request a volunteer visitor referral or the other option is you can contact one of the state network members that’s available in every state and territory and they’ll be able to direct you as to where an auspice is within your area.
Great. Thank you Craig. So we’ve had another question here regarding:
Q: Does the client need to be receiving home care packages to be eligible or can they be approved and waiting for their home care package to be assigned?
So that’s correct. They can be on the National Priority System and approved for a package and still receive the ACVVS service.
We’ve also had another question about:
Q: If a volunteer is not found to be abiding to protocol is this something to report to the Department?
So in the first instance your best point of contact is the ACVVS auspice who is coordinating that volunteer and is the main contact in your facility and they’ll be able to work with you around that.
We’ve had another question.
Q: We are a community organisation so how do we apply to be part of the program? We have a number of volunteers that are keen to be part of the program.
So as we said before you can go to the Departmental website. There’s the recruitment forms for the volunteers there that people can refer themselves or there’s the referral form for older people to receive the ACVVS service, noting that the grant round for the ACVVS community organisations has now closed.
And thank you. The moderator’s now put up the link as well for the video recording which will be available in a few days.
So this has been answered by the moderator as well. Thank you. But another question was:
Q: Are volunteers remunerated for kilometres travelled through the ACVVS grant or does this need to be funded by the organisation itself?
Which is a great question. I’ll hand over to you Craig for that one.
Thank you. The community-based organisations who are providing the volunteers need to have clear policies and procedures that clearly outline any reimbursements that the volunteer is entitled to in undertaking their ACVVS visits to their aged care recipient. Thank you.
Great. Thank you. We had another question.
Q: Will ACVVS be available to those who live in regional towns other than virtually as this is a barrier we can’t really navigate in.
And we definitely understand that. So ACVVS is primarily a one on one face to face service to build that relationship between the volunteer and the older person. But we do have the exceptional circumstances to have the service provided either online or via other mechanisms such as letter writing or telephone calls. And the reason for that is there may not be a volunteer in that remote town to visit the older person so we still want to ensure that they’re receiving that support. But the ACVVS auspices are amazing and they work really hard to match volunteers to the older person so that they can receive that friendship and companionship including in remote areas.
We had a question.
Q: How do you manage requests for bilingual volunteers such as a volunteer for a Bangladeshi client and how do you advertise for your volunteers?
So I’ll hand over to Craig for this one.
Thank you. So a lot of our ACVVS providers are from many of the diversities. So within the ACVVS program we have 13 identified diversities which are available in the National Guidelines. So individual organisations will recruit volunteers to meet the individual needs. Whilst we have 141 organisations across Australia part of the role of the network member is to work with them and collaboratively. So for instance if a referral comes through to an organisation that doesn’t have a suitable volunteer because they might be a bilingual request or something the network member then works with the organisation and the other organisations that operate within that aged care planning region to find a volunteer that is going to achieve the program outcome of establishing that friendship.
Great. Thanks Craig. We had another question about the HAC program saying that it doesn’t state in the ACVVS eligibility criteria if HAC is eligible or not. So to be eligible they have to be in receipt of Commonwealth aged care services. So generally HAC is for people aged under 65 years of age. So I would say it’s likely that they’re not eligible noting that some people under exceptional circumstances or particular diverse groups are eligible for Commonwealth aged care services who are under 65. But generally I would say that they’re not eligible.
There’s another question here.
Q: Can you please require all providers to tell residents and home care consumers about this service?
Look I think that’s a great statement. We really do want to ensure that all providers are aware of the service and that once again under the Quality Standards that they’re ensuring that the resident is receiving the care that best suits their needs and as per their wishes. So that’s one for us to take on board as well.
So there’s another question.
Q; If there are any concerns regarding the client how do you manage this? Do you liaise with family members or the home care provider to address?
So I’m assuming that you’re meaning the older person who’s in receipt of ACVVS, if there’s concerns around them. And once again I would point you as your first point of contact to liaise with the ACVVS auspice regarding that and develop a risk approach around that.
We had a question about:
Q: Are volunteers bound by the Aged Care Code of Conduct?
Some of our ACVVS providers are approved providers and some are not. But generally they are bound by the Code of Conduct and we also have training and guidance for volunteers around the Code of Conduct with a link provided there.
We had another question.
Q: If a recipient is not happy with the volunteer they have been matched with who do they advise?
So I’ll hand over to Craig for that one.
Yep. Thank you. So in that circumstance the point of contact is the community organisation. And every community organisation has an auspice coordinator and the coordinator’s role is to work with that organisation. They are there to help facilitate the referrals being matched to the right volunteer and then they are there to ensure that the service is then delivered as required. So if there is an issue where a recipient feels that it’s not meeting – they can simply reach out to their coordinator of the community organisation and let them know their concerns. And ideally if another friendship needs to be made then that can occur. So the first point of contact is the community organisation. And look we strongly encourage our residential aged care home lifestyle coordinators and the coordinators in the home care space to make those relationships with the coordinator at the community organisation.
We also had another question.
Q: Is there an ACVVS network of funded services in each funded region?
So in the moderation there they’ve helpfully provided a link to the network member. We do have ACVVS being provided in each state and territory and as Craig advised we did seek to have an equal distribution of ACVVS places of approximately 5% of the eligible population across each aged care planning region. Unfortunately there are a few spots where we do not have providers servicing but I would encourage you to reach out to your network member in the first instance to understand what services are available in your region and they can help you.
All right. So we do have one minute to go but we have sort of a last question coming through. The question is:
Q: If a volunteer is encouraged to become a support worker to provide companionship and get paid via home care program would that be allowed?
Do you want to speak to this one Craig?
Yeah. So thank you Kirsten. So obviously that’s two different programs. Because effectively if a person is a support worker being paid by a home care provider then it’s not an ACVVS service. In saying that we are certainly aware of where we have some ACVVS volunteers where they do a dual role. I am aware of a fantastic volunteer. After finishing work she pops along and she has a visit with her aged care friend and then after that she then actually goes and undertakes volunteer duties in the dining room under the residential aged care home umbrella. So they certainly can do multiple roles but in that instance if someone is being paid to provide that service it's not an ACVVS service.
Great. Thanks Craig. We just had other questions pop up. We’ll keep answering them if people are happy to stay on the line.
Q: Is there another funding round for new providers to apply for?
So the current grant round is closed and that funding is in place until 25-26 financial year.
30 June 2026 the current funding expires.
Thanks Craig. We had a question here.
Q: Can volunteers be used for interpreting services if required?
Look interpreting is a professional service and an interpreter should be trained and qualified to provide that service. So whilst we do seek to match volunteer visitors and the older person based on things like background and language and we do dual languages with one of course we would not expect that volunteer to come in as an interpreter. And there is interpreting available under the TIS service.
We had another question.
Q: What’s the maximum number of hours of support a volunteer can provide per week or fortnight?
Do you want to answer that one Craig?
Yeah. Thank you Kirsten. So there is no maximum but if we look at the ACVVS program, the volunteers within our program, generally most of our volunteers are matched to one aged care recipient, so they’ve created one friendship. There are some volunteers within our program that are wonderful and they have two or three friendships that they undertake over the fortnight. And generally a visit we encourage is approximately an hour. It’s a fortnightly visit of an approximate duration of an hour based on the individual aged care recipient. So with regards to the number of hours a volunteer can work per week that’s more of a volunteer working in a residential aged care setting undertaking residential aged care duties.
Yep. That’s right.
Great. Last question.
Q: Can one client have more than one volunteer?
I wouldn’t encourage that because that means there’s another older person who may be missing out on a friendship if that funded space is being taken by an older person who’s receiving more than one volunteer service. So I wouldn’t encourage that but we hope that they will be getting a lot of value from the volunteer that they’re matched with.
And we had another question.
Q: If a volunteer is working as a volunteer and a support worker for one client how would a client know what they are operating as? Too may hats on. That would be confusing for the client.
I don’t think that’s what Craig was saying. Did you want to expand on that Craig?
Yeah. So we were sort of just saying that if they’re a support worker that is not an ACVVS service. And look our experience is that a support worker and the ACVVS friendship is two different things. I would not imagine that’s actually occurring, where someone’s undertaking four or five hours of support worker services and then saying ‘Hey I’m going to stay for an hour to be your friend’. It would not make sense and it wouldn’t be clear so I agree it would be confusing for the client. But I don’t think that’s occurring.
Ideally they’d be separate people.
Great. Okay. Well I think that’s all the questions. We do hope – there’s another – we’ll answer the other question if people don’t mind staying online.
So there’s a question.
Q: Can I assume that they should preferably remain within the boundaries of the care home or are they able to leave the facility to go to things like coffee shops? If so how will insurance work for this?
So this is a question that we get a bit. Once again I would refer you to the Quality Standards. And it’s really about the older person’s preference and how they engage with the risks for things that they would enjoy like going down to the coffee shop. The ACVVS community organisations should be holding the insurance for the volunteers that they manage.
Sorry Kirsten. Additionally we also expect that the community organisations will have the appropriate policies and procedures in line for if they’re actually taking people to a coffee shop as such. We do know it occurs. We’ve got a fantastic – one of our showcases on our ACVVS website talks about Sarah and Betty and how they pop off and have a coffee at the coffee shop.
People enjoy it. Absolutely. And then we have another question here.
Q: Would ACVVS require the home care planning care plans and documentation?
Look once again liaise with the ACVVS auspice or community organisation. They can advise you. It’s mainly about ensuring that the volunteer themselves are comfortable and that they’re aware in that screening process of all the risks and everything.
All right. I think we have now gone through all your questions so we’ll stop there. So thank you very much for attending today. We hope that you found it useful and feel inspired to utilise the ACVVS service.
When the webinar finishes a short survey will pop up in the browser. It will only take about one minute to complete. It’s just three questions. But we would really appreciate you completing it because it really helps us to improve our webinars.
And with that we’ll say goodbye and have a great afternoon.
Thank you very much. Goodbye.
Kirsten Turner, Director Consumer Support Section, Department of Health and Aged Care
Craig Mastersson, ACVVS Program Manager, Department of Health and Aged Care
About the webinar
This webinar is for home care and residential care providers.
It is not applicable to Commonwealth Home Support Programme providers.
Topics covered included:
- How to refer older people to ACVVS
- Who is eligible
- Training provided to ACVVS volunteers
- ACVVS volunteer screening/police clearances
- ACVVS volunteers can be nominated as essential visitors
- Duties not undertaken by ACVVS volunteers
Visit the ACVVS webpage for more information about the scheme.
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