Uniting Annual Report 2020-2021

COVID-19 Flying Squad to the rescue

During FY21, we built up a Flying Squad of 85 employees who selflessly volunteered to provide on-the-ground support in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak across any of our services. They’ve helped to give Uniting service managers and aged care residents a sense of safety and stability throughout the pandemic. 

 

COVID-19 outbreaks can still happen at any place and time, despite taking all precautions, so having a committed Flying Squad on standby is of critical importance and can make a huge difference in curbing infection rates.

 

Loa Tipa, Uniting Homemaker and Enrolled Nurse, explained why she decided to join the Flying Squad:

 

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Uniting provides exceptional service to the people we care for and, as a nurse, I know that I can help to safeguard our aged care residents this way. I didn’t hesitate – I applied straight away. We’re all in this together, and my home life gives me the flexibility to travel anywhere I’m needed.”

With 18 years of aged care experience under her belt, Loa felt comfortable that she could apply her skills if needed. Flying Squad masterclasses, led by Practice Excellence Lead Hayley Ryan, provided succinct clinical training and practical Q&A sessions. The safety and wellbeing of everyone at Uniting is always the top priority – every client, resident, employee or volunteer – and the Flying Squad regularly reviews safety policies and procedures.

 

Loa understands, “It’s very much a personal choice, and Uniting has made that very clear, without judgement. This is our opportunity to rise above the negativity about the aged care sector, to pull together as a team, and to ultimately protect the lives of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

Thank you to our heroic COVID-19 Flying Squad!

Helping the helpers 

At Uniting, we have more than 1,300 dedicated volunteers, many of them older and more at risk for COVID-19. In FY21, several of our volunteers understandably chose to postpone their commitments until it’s safe to resume doing what they love. For some, that meant being in isolation themselves, and not benefiting from the wellbeing support they would otherwise be giving and receiving from their teams, friends, families and communities.

 

Volunteer Lead, Gail Yap, initiated check-in phone calls to our volunteer network with a helping hand from other Uniting employees. She noted, “Our volunteers contribute so much to our services. It’s important we do everything we can to reach out and look after them – particularly during the pandemic.”

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After putting out a request for help to employees, it was amazing how quickly our team of phone-callers grew from 2 to 64! In less than 5 days, over 1,000 check-in calls were made.”

Gail was then reassured: “We now know our volunteering community are doing OK and can’t wait to get back to their work at Uniting. We also know how we can help further.”

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For most of our volunteers, it was more than a check-in – it was a symbol of care, and it meant the world to them.”

The check-ins also provided an opportunity to confirm interest in a Uniting COVID-19 initiative called Phone a Friend. This is a weekly phone chat service, for volunteers to ensure our clients are maintaining social connections through the pandemic. Our vols value these interactions just as much as our clients.

Uniting across the airwaves

Uniting Pastoral Practitioner, Paul Jabez, provides face-to-face pastoral care to aged care residents in Bankstown and Peakhurst. In FY21, he recorded special chapel services for broadcasting to residents from the comfort of their room. He reflected, “It was a wonderful way to connect with our residents, especially those who are less mobile, and couldn’t previously attend chapel services in person.”

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I have made so many friendships, because it’s something I’m passionate about, and something I love to do.”