If you can sing, dance, entertain, host a bingo session or just chat the hind leg off a donkey, Frank Malley wants to hear from you.
Frank, who devoted 15 years to the Northland Age as its sports reporter (until Covid-19 struck), has taken on the job of volunteer co-ordinator at Switzer Residential Care, in Kaitaia, and is looking to build up the ranks of volunteers, which have become a little depleted over the last 12 months thanks to the global pandemic.
He's planning to build on the "formidable legacy" left by longstanding predecessors Gail and Brian Gillespie, who stepped down from the role late last year to focus on family commitments.
"Gail and Brian ran a really tight ship, and spearheaded the volunteer programme like a well-oiled machine," he said.
He had joined the volunteer team at Switzer in 2015, as a means of making good use of his spare time, aiming to provide companionship to any residents who felt lonely. He began by playing chess and offering conversation, and ended up making some great friends.
"While it was sometimes difficult getting myself motivated to visit regularly, I soon began to realise I was getting as much out of it, if not more, than I was actually putting in," he said.
Now running a new recruitment drive on the back of awareness raised by National Volunteer Week, he said there were many benefits to volunteering, whether that be by way of a physical presence at the home or as 'virtual volunteer' (working online from home). It provided a real opportunity for anyone who was looking for deeper meaning, value and enrichment in their life, as well as a chance to upskill, particularly those who were younger and/or unemployed, and wanted to enhance their resume.
Volunteering offered a pathway to internship for a career in aged care, as well as a means of getting involved in meaningful, challenging projects.
"Switzer Residential Care is on board with the Eden Alternative, a programme that advocates for the volunteer to provide spontaneity and alleviate the boredom and loneliness some elderly people can feel in a rest home environment," he added.
The Eden Alternative, which was designed to empower aged care facility residents, staff and families, was a philosophy based on health, wellness and improving the quality of life of residents. There were 10 principles that encouraged everyone to view ageing and moving into aged care as a continuation of a life worth living, where people continued to learn, grow, and remained in charge of their destiny.
It specifically targeted three afflictions that affected aged care residents - loneliness, helplessness and boredom - the principles showing how companionship and caring for other people and things, such as plants, animals and children, could improve residents' quality of life.
"It is about ensuring variety and spontaneity remain an integral part of everyday life, and that life isn't overly structured with rules and routines," Frank said.
"As well as companionship, volunteers can be drivers on day trips, help out with regular activities such as indoor bowls, cards, outings and readings, as well as organising and running a variety of events, such as arts and craft workshops. Any other ideas or concepts are always welcome," he added.
Anyone who would like to know more about volunteering was welcome to contact him on (021) 258-6768, or to call at the home's reception desk (phone (09) 408-1480) for an application form.