Omnicare Meals Service, Meals on Wheels NSW call on community to make face masks for volunteers

Make a mask: Erlinda and Kevin Attwater are eight year volunteers with Omnicare Meals Service and support calls for volunteers to make face masks.
Make a mask: Erlinda and Kevin Attwater are eight year volunteers with Omnicare Meals Service and support calls for volunteers to make face masks.

Omnicare Meals Service says its supports calls by Meals on Wheels NSW for community members to sew face masks its volunteers.

Meals on Wheels NSW CEO Les MacDonald says the organisation is reaching out to local communities to get involved with sewing safe, reusable and washable face masks to be used by their 35,000 volunteers.

The masks will be used when volunteers are out delivering meals to vulnerable members in the community.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a rapid increase in demand for Meals on Wheels services across NSW, with more clients than ever before being served each day," he said.

"With self-isolation measures in place for vulnerable members in the community, our team of over 35,000 volunteers continue to deliver and support us in meeting the needs of our clients."

Omnicare Meal Service's Alvena Ferguson says the shout out is a great idea.

"Omnicare is a member of Meals on Wheels NSW and we think this is a great idea for individual services to determine if they will mandate mask wearing," she said.

"In our case, we already offer a contactless delivery service unless the client needs the meal taken inside their home.

"If that is the case, the volunteer needs to undertake a COVID screening of themselves and the client.

"The volunteer must also mask up and wear gloves," she said.

"And we would certainly support the community - or our volunteers - making masks for our volunteers."

Omnicare is a member of Meals on Wheels NSW and we think this is a great idea for individual services to determine if they will mandate mask wearing.

Alvena Ferguson

She said masks would have to provide a high level of protection.

Mrs Ferguson said the service is currently down about 15 per cent on its volunteer requirements.

New volunteers are always welcome.

"When COVID first hit we would have lost at least 75 per cent (of its volunteers) but most have now returned to assist.

"Thankfully we covered these shifts with our paid support workers.

"We are certainly looking for more volunteers to get involved with our meal delivery service."

Mrs Ferguson said client numbers are rising as more people choose to join the meals service rather than do their own shopping.

"It may only be a few meals a week," she added.

Another service enjoying strong support is the shopping assistance service with volunteers shopping on behalf of a client.

Mrs Ferguson praised the service's volunteers who have "responded outstandingly" to embracing the strict COVID-19 safety plan.

Volunteers, staff and contractors are undertaking mandated online training as recommended by NSW Health.

It is vital that our clients continue to receive nutritious meals and wellness checks

Les MacDonald

Meals on Wheels NSW urged all sections of the community to "get onboard with our mask making initiative".

"It is vital that our clients continue to receive nutritious meals and wellness checks," Mr MacDonald said.

"Not only will having reusable masks make a positive impact to the environment, they will also support the wellness of our volunteers and clients at this very uncertain time.

"As we continue to provide care within the community, we would like to engage the local community to support this initiative by making masks and donating them to their local Meals on Wheels service.

"If you have access to a sewing machine, or know someone who does, please know that your sewing skills will be making a difference to our cause."

To register your interest in creating masks for Meals on Wheels NSW, a website page has been created, with access to a pattern, general information and a registration form.

Omnicare Meals Service operates in the Port Macquarie, Wauchope and Camden Haven areas.

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