Compassionate Connectors Program

We are currently seeking expressions for new volunteers to become Compassionate Connectors or Caring Helpers. Please submit an Expression of Interest form here to become a Compassionate Connector or contact us if you are interested in becoming a Caring Helper.

Compassionate Community Connectors

What is the Compassionate Connectors Program?

Each family participating in  the project is matched with a Connector who will meet with them to determine the type of additional practical and social support they might need from ‘caring helpers’ in their community.  This is different for each person but some of the types of support that might be provided are:

  • transport for shopping, appointments, social activities
  • collecting prescriptions
  • organising meals
  • having a regular cuppa and chat
  • linking clients to community activities, such as choirs, walking groups, men’s shed and other interest groups where people can make friendships and share life’s events
  • helping complete Advance Care Planning documentation
  • help around the house, e.g. hanging out the washing or walking the dog
  • help accessing formal (paid) services.

The idea behind the Community Connectors project is to make the most of people’s local community – family, friends and neighbours.  Some of this is practical support and some of it is social support to increase people’s sense of belonging and connectedness. ‘Caring helpers’ might be existing family, friends, neighbours or other people from within the local community who are willing and able to assist.

Some of the benefits of a Compassionate Community include:

  • People with a life-limiting illness and their carers feel more supported.
  • Increased equity of services.
  • Community members have a sense of purpose in supporting other people in their community.
  • People learn how to care for another at end of life and can share this with others.

​Watch a video about our Compassionate Connectors Program

How can I get involved?

Patients

If you would like to be involved as a patient or family supporting the patient, you can download a flyer or contact us to find out more:

Volunteer Connectors or Caring Helpers

If you would like to be involved as a Connector please:

If you would like to be involved as a Caring Helper please

Kerry Gunton

Program Coordinator – WA Country Health Service

Phone: 0457 873 533

Email: kerry.gunton@health.wa.gov.au

Heather Wade

South West Compassionate Communities Network

Phone: 0483 802 915

Email: swcomcomnetwork@gmail.com

If you would like to know more about compassionate communities or the research component of the program please contact:

Pictured from left to right our Connectors:
Back row: Heather Wade, Leanne O’Shea (trainer), Toni Jacobsen, Deb Wraight, Di Moore, Hellen Claughton.
Middle row: Jenean Halket, Jenny Chester, Jackie Rooney, Anthea Openshaw
Front row: Amber Janowicz, Shahan Ayers, Professor Samar Aoun (Researcher)

Program Partners

This project has been made possible with the support from the following organisations:

More about the Research

​This pilot project is a partnership between the community and the palliative care service in the South West of Western Australia, designed to utilise the principles of Compassionate Communities to improve the capacity to provide the full aspects of palliative care, including the physical, psycho-social and existential care.

It is expected that, by the end of the project, the community will have a sustainable pool of trained and experienced people who can work with the palliative care services to cover the social and practical needs of dying people and reduce the need for hospital admissions.
 
The project aims to develop, implement and evaluate a model of community volunteer, identified as a Compassionate Community Connector, who can enhance patient, carer and family end of life experiences and reduce the need for patients to be admitted to hospital.  This approach seeks to map and mobilise people’s personal networks of care, through enlisting Caring Helpers (community volunteers) and facilitate access to formal services where necessary.

Each Connector will support individuals with advanced illness and their carer/family/social network in the 12 months prior to an expected death.

Insights from the Connectors and clients and/or carers during this pilot will enable the model to be modified, refined and improved to ensure the optimal model outcome.

This is a demonstration project that will set the scene for replicating such models of care at the local, national and international levels if it proves to be successful. The project has an advisory group of national and international researchers and practitioners engaged in similar projects within their own countries. 

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