Befriender Service:One of our highly valued services is our Befriender service. A trained volunteer is paired with the family of a person with dementia to give support in whatever is agreed as appropriate. This could mean visiting to provide much needed respite for the main care-giver and providing friendship and variety for the person with dementia.

Because of the complexity of this job considerable training is invested in our Befrienders and our families view them as a critical key to maintaining emotional safety in the family.

In the last financial year, the Befrienders provided 500 hours of voluntary time in the home (much more if we include travel time). The service currently costs $10,900 per annum and we hope to continue to be able to offer it free of charge, because the majority of the service users are on limited and/or fixed incomes. Find out more about the programme and to support the Alzheimer's Tauranga group, click here
Date:                              31 June 2017
Acknowledging Rotary’s contribution of $10,000 for our Befriender programme.
Befrienders are special volunteers who will take a personal interest in the family of a person with dementia.
When volunteers are recruited they are offered 3 to 4 training sessions a year – every year; from a thorough induction for new people and then sesssions informing them about different aspects of the volunteer role as it relates to dealing with a person with dementia. Many of our volunteers go on to complete the MOOC training (Massive Open Online Course)– Understanding Dementia, through the University of Tasmania.
We have many volunteers, not all of them befrienders as this requires a higher level of training. And we’re always looking for more – particularly Befrienders. Of course all our volunteers are Police checked and then each volunteer is assessed ,  matched to a role and then further matched to a person. Not all people get on well immediately.
Other roles we use our volunteers for:
  • Activity groups in Tauranga, Katikati and Mount / Papamoa
  • Carer support groups in Tauranga, Katikati, Te Puke and for people who have a person in residential care
  • Walking groups in Tauranga and Mount
  • Collecting money
  • Gardening
  • Office work
  • General admin
  • Fundraising
We survey our families quarterly and receive rave reviews for our befrienders and other volunteers. The appreciation is massive.
Mary (not her real name)has been an amazing befriender volunteer. She visits a lady who lives by herself and formal care providers have found her very difficult to engage with as she is resistant to accepting help. However, Mary has been able to form a genuinely affectionate relationship with her client and they seem to really enjoy each other’s company. The client is always happy and welcoming with Mary. Initially Mary was the only one regularly seeing her client and she was able to alert staff to the fact that she was not managing to look after herself as well as she was able to portray to those of her who do not know her so well. Without Mary’s involvement I have no doubt that the lady’s circumstances would have deteriorated greatly before anyone was aware of the situation and may well have ended up prematurely in residential care. Since Mary was able to let us know the problems that her client was having we have been able to get formal supports in place for her. However, even after this Mary’s role remains vital as she is able to gently encourage the lady to accept the help she is being given, which she now reluctantly does. As she approaches the time that she will probably need to go into a rest home Mary has been able to talk to her about this in a way that she is able to accept without feeling pressured. Thank you so much Mary for all your hard work and the very real difference that you have made in your client’s life.
On behalf of our families who live with dementia we thank you for contributing towards keeping our people safe and living well.