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'OK' card initiative supporting older Australians at home

A Western Australian aged care and disability service provider has implemented a unique way to ensure the wellbeing of its clients during the coronavirus outbreak.

Community Vision introduced
Community Vision introduced "I'm OK cards" with one side of the card coloured green with a happy face and the other side coloured red with a sad face. [Source: Community Vision]

Not-for profit community-based organisation, Community Vision, has created special red and green cards for their home care clients to display in their windows to let the organisation know if they need help.

The company introduced "I'm OK cards", with one side of the card coloured green with a happy face and the other side coloured red with a sad face.

Every Community Vision client has been sent one of these cards in the mail, which they can display in the window or at the front of their home, so it is visible to Community Vision workers and the staff know whether a client needs help at home or is coping ok. 

Chief Operations Officer (COO) at Community Vision, Yvonne Timson says, the idea was created and run by the company in Yorkshire in the United Kingdom.

The Australian based Community Vision decided to replicate the same concept in Australia and support their clients.

"We are committed to keeping our community safe and well. These are unprecedented times we are facing, and it is organisations like ours who really need to step up and do all we can to look after our customers, many of whom live alone," says Ms Timson.

"We are actively going around every couple days and checking every single one of our customers. But also, if any of those clients have friends who want this, we are offering it to them as well. This is around meeting the need in our community at this very, very risky time for older people."

The added bonus with these signs is that if a customer does require help at home, they can be assured that the help is coming from a trusted source who is going to be following the strictest hygiene requirements to prevent the passing of the coronavirus.

This project is also providing that feeling of safety and security to older people during a time of extreme stress.

Ms Timson says they had one elderly gentleman call the organisation after receiving his pack to find out more information about the initiative and ended up crying on the phone because he was so relieved there was someone looking out for him.

"It is also not just an urgent need that you have, like run out of food, it could also be you are feeling sad or you need someone to contact you from that social isolation point of view," says Ms Timson.

"Which we know in the aged care context, social isolation leads to cognitive decline, it has all of these negative implications and outcomes. Social isolation is something else we wanted to address with [the initiative].

"...We all should be there to protect our most vulnerable in their time of need and this is what we are doing. It might not be business as usual, but we are open for service as usual."

Angela Lee, an 82 year old customer from Clarkson, is really pleased with the new program from Community Vision.

She says, “This is a great initiative. Knowing that I have someone looking out for me during this time is a great weight off my shoulders.”

Community Vision is also encouraging their clients to utilise technology for virtual customer catch ups, welfare checks, weekly communication updates and access to online COVID-19 resource hubs.

For more information about the coronavirus, visit the Aged Care Guide's COVID-19 update page. 

Do you have any questions about the coronavirus that you want answered? Tell us in the comments below or email journalist@dps.com.au.

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