Sector COVID-19 Response

Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and Victoria

Fall prevention – Rose, age 90

Guide Dogs is piloting fall prevention programs for older clients, which involve strength and balance exercises in the home. In addition to preventing falls, the program provides a sense of connection for clients, and provides the foundation skills for independently accessing the community once restrictions ease. The programs are usually run in the client’s home, but due to Covid have been switched to telepractice. We have so far delivered programs to 30/100 older clients who have signed up.

Rose (age 90) is completing the program because she wants to continue living independently. She is very engaged with the program, and reports that telepractice is working well for her, even though she had some initial doubts. Rose also really looks forward to the weekly contact with a GDN Specialist, as she is feeling isolated from the community.

Chatter Paws

Chatter Paws is a weekly, one hour group connection program for clients, delivered through telepractice. While GDN staff run the program, the sessions are facilitated by a client volunteer, and provide a supportive space for clients to connect with each other and discuss topics of interest. The groups also provide a pathway into GDN services, with referrals generated from the increased confidence with technology and Specialist guest speakers talking about our services.

We’ve had a lot of interest from older clients in particular, and run an over 60’s group (10 clients) and an over 70’s group (15 clients). A number of these clients live in social housing or residential aged care. A recent review showed that the companionship and connection of the group are particularly valued by older clients who are in lockdown or self-isolating due to Covid. Some clients have exchanged details and are connecting outside of the group, replacing some of the interactions they would normally have in the community. Others are using their new technology skills to connect with family and friends who they are unable to see in person due to Covid restrictions.

Assistive technology – Mrs Smith, age 82

Mrs Smith moved into residential aged care around 12 months ago. She has low vision due to macular degeneration, some other conditions affecting her physical mobility, and is in excellent cognitive health.

Mrs Smith has recently been working with a GDN Assistive Technology Specialist to use her mobile phone to connect with her family and friends. She was initially wary of using telepractice, but decided to try it as she still wished to access service despite Covid. Mrs Smith is now regularly using FaceTime and text to connect with her family, who are visiting less frequently due to Covid restrictions. Mrs Smith was recently able to meet her new great-granddaughter for the first time (using her remaining vision) through FaceTime. With Covid restrictions, this is something she might not have been able to do in person for many months.