Residents are Remembered

With weekly telephone calls replacing face-to-face visits to Italians in residential aged care facilities, Co.As.It. Community Volunteer Service Co-ordinators, Sarina Campbell and Luisa Ruggiero-Foote decided to round up a few local children to remind the 20+ Italian residents at Regis Aged Care Lutwyche, that they hadn’t been forgotten. Luisa and Sarina enlisted the help of 6-year-old Amira to deliver a load of brightly coloured posters to Debra Dorgan, Lifestyle Co-ordinator at Regis, to brighten the residents’ rooms.

CVS – In Home “Phone” Visits

The restrictions CVS is facing of social distancing and isolation especially for the elderly are in direct contrast to the intentions of the CVS program, which are building connections and companionship (a special friend) through regular physical visits by matching a volunteer with a client/resident.


Home care package client Joe who lives alone enjoys his visits from his CVS visitor Perry.  Joe’s face usually lights up when Perry arrives at his home.  Over a cup of coffee that Joe proudly prepares by setting the table with a table cloth and good china, he reminisces and recounts the stories of this family immigrating from Italy in the early 1930s and becoming a pioneer cane cutting family in north Queensland for many years. Joe delights in sharing his many stories and achievements from throughout his life. He also likes to share poems that have inspired him during his life.


Since COVID-19, speaking over the phone with the CVS coordinator Joe said he is alone with his cup of coffee and Rosary beads and that’s how he spends his days.  Perry has now transitioned to recreating and continuing his visits through a regular phone call with Joe to assist him to stay connected and offer any social support he may need.


Normally new volunteers and clients are matched through a physical meet and greet visit with the CVS coordinator but due to protecting the health of our elderly community at this time, this process is not possible.  With the coordinator’s encouragement and assistance, new volunteers have been initiating the first contact with their new client/resident by phone on their own. This is a new territory for the program’s coordinators and volunteers.  In essence, they are the trailblazers that will go down in history for adapting, trialing and implement a new way of achieving the goal of how can we keep helping the vulnerable in our communities keep connected. Our goal is to support well being.


Below is an extract from an email received from the first new volunteer who introduced herself to her new client via telephone after receiving coaching from the client’s carer regarding her background and interests so that the volunteer had a brief knowledge of the client’s past life experiences.


“The phone call with Cora went really well! It was very easy to talk to each other and she’s a very funny, talkative lady. Without knowing it, you matched us perfectly as we have a lot in common and share very similar interests. She was very grateful and we both decided we will continue to talk on the phone until we can finally meet :)”


Client Interview ‘Wellbeing Checks’

Seniors are hardest hit by the COVID-19 restrictions. The self isolation measures that are in place are creating challenges for many who are missing contact with grand children and their family members. New guidelines ask for seniors to remain at home. One couple that is experiencing such challenges is Maria and Luigi Apolloni, who are both Co.As.It. clients and regular visitors to Casa Aurelia, Co.As.It.’s south-side social group activity centre.

As restrictions have tightened due to the virus, Co.As.It. has demonstrated creativity and flexibility in the type and delivery of services it’s providing. A new initiative has been launched called “Client Interview – Welfare Checks” designed to ensure social group activity centre clients are regularly contacted and have a chance to talk to staff in their preferred language. It was during one of these checks that Maria was identified by staff as someone who may experience loneliness and isolation as her usual support mechanisms were closed. Maria looks forward to the weekly calls in Italian, which always include the question, “When are you going to call me next?”

Co.As.It. staff members speak a total of 30 languages, so most clients can speak to a staff member in their preferred language, which is particularly reassuring in times of uncertainty and change.

Maria has compared the current situation to war times, but with the difference that she and Luigi are still able to receive important services, such as their home visits by registered nurse, Tina. Tina’s weekly wellbeing checks are a welcome break in the day-to-day routine and Maria is grateful to Co.As.It. for the services she and Luigi are receiving.

While she looks forward to catching up with staff and friends at Casa Aurelia, for the time being, Maria is happy to make the most of her weekly chats and Co.As.It. continues to find ways to support it’s clients.

International Women’s Day 2020

More than 360 guests, predominantly women, attended Co.As.It.’s high tea for International Women’s Day (IWD), Saturday 7th March.

This year’s IWD theme of #Each for Equal stressed that individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can actively choose to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.

Attendees were treated to addresses from Hon. Grace Grace, Minister for Education and Minister for Industrial Relations, Lady Mayoress, Nina Schrinner, Co.As.It. CEO Dina Ranieri and keynote speaker, Belinda Cox, Communities and Partnerships Program Manager from the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service, who delivered a highly informative and poignant speech about the current state of domestic violence in Queensland and nationally.

Prior to introducing Ms Cox, Ms Ranieri gave a well-received address highlighting the potential threats posed to aged care workers, who are predominantly women, from the spread of coronavirus, and the role of women, as the mothers of future generations, in combatting the unacceptably high rates of domestic violence.

Of course there was time for fun and frivolity too, with sponsorship from Italiquore, fashion parades by Designer Emporium and ModnamarKa and more than 35 raffles drawn. Funds raised went to a very worthy cause, Co.As.It.’s dementia and carer support program.

Stay Active Classes are Back

Our Stay Active Classes are back.

Co.As.It. physiotherapist, Leonie, runs an exercise group suitable for people aged 65 years and over. The program is aimed at optimizing strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility. Enhance your overall wellbeing and delay age-related stiffness. Ideal for those able to mobilize without the use of a walking aid, walker or wheelchair. FREE and bookings are essential.

FREE Stay Active Classes. Every Monday. 

9.30am to 10.15am

The Community Place 20 Clark Street, Wooloowin

Care Expo Exceeds Expectation

Co.As.It. Community Services was one of many aged care providers that attended the annual Care Expo at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre in South Brisbane (BCEC) on the 4 and 5 October. The expo was aimed at providing an opportunity to discover and connect with providers from aged care, disability and in-home support through to education, mobility, mental health, social and recreational services.  

Michelle Calabro from Co.As.It. Community Services was a guest speaker at the event – ‘How to Navigate Aged Care Services – Choosing the Right Provider’. Her presentation was delivered to an enthusiastic audience with standing room only. Many attendees asked questions during the presentation, indicative of a significant need for knowledge on how to access aged care services. Michelle spoke openly on accessing a program called Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP). CHSP is an entry level home help program for older people who are mostly – but not completely – able to live and cope on their own.

Michelle explained that the “CHSP is interim funding for low needs care services, often when an individual is on the waitlist to be assigned a Home Care Package (HCP). The CHSP is considered an ‘entry-level’ program as it provides (low intensity) small amounts, or single service or a few services to a large number of older people who need only a small amount of assistance”.

The HCP program provides the second tier of support in the aged care system. The idea of the program is to provide a coordinated and tailored service to help older people with more complex care needs to continue living independently and happily at home. There are four levels of Home Care Packages, with each level providing a different subsidy amount dependent on the individual’s care needs.

The Home Care Package holder will have to choose a provider to host their package, who will develop a care plan and individualised budget that will be used to deliver the care and services the individual needs.

“With a HCP you get your own funds to use and can decide how to spend it, rather than choosing from a menu. A ‘Care Coordinator’ helps you understand the system and work out a Care Plan that suits your individual needs and preferences. Once you have a package, it stays in place for the long term. Your eligibility is assessed by the Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).” Said Michelle.

Michelle mentioned that “many organisations will ‘broker’ services to another provider because they do not have the organisational mix to deliver services across the board like Co.As.It. does. The benefit of going to an organisation that has its own workforce of allied health professionals, nurses, occupational therapists and of course Community Care Workers (CCWs) all under the one roof means consistency of care for the client. An organisation like Co.As.It. has more control to deliver the same worker to the client minimising changes. This is one of the benefits of choosing an organisation like Co.As.It.”

The presentation detailed the new Aged Care Quality Standards and Charter of Aged Care Rights that the Government launched on July 1. These standards make sure that clients receiving services have rights and a high quality of life right through to their twilight years.

The Care Expo was attended by a mix of families, seniors and people living with a disability. Many exhibitors specialised in aged care and NDIS services and it was a fantastic event across the board.

Toowoomba Flower Show

Co.As.It. Community Services organized a combined trip with North and South clients to the Central Gardens flower show in Toowoomba. The trip took place on 26 September 2019.

An early departure was set for 7.30am with many clients arriving early and full of enthusiasm. The groups listened to Italian music on the bus ride heading up the highway – some sang along to the Italian songs and others cheerfully listened. The two groups met for morning tea at the Coffee Club in Plainlands at 9am for a morning tea break.

Coffees and cakes were served by an enthusiastic staff and there was a lot of catching up with friends and relatives during the morning tea break. The groups then boarded the buses again heading to Central Gardens in Toowoomba to attend the annual Flower Show. The Flower Show was a highlight – enjoyed by all – with time spent observing, identifying and admiring the gorgeous flowers.  One of the gardens had parsley growing as a feature in between the flowers! The group discussed how the parsley could be used to make crumbed “cottoletti” for dinner that night!

The weather held out to allow all to enjoy the beautiful surrounds. The groups were then picked up by the bus and taken to The Cube Hotel were everyone experienced a lovely sit down lunch with an alternative drop of chicken and mushroom crepe and crumbed fish and chips. A delicious desert of either ice cream and waffle or cream puffs and strawberries was then served.

Back on to the bus with the final stop being at Point Lookout that had the most stunning views of the mountains and valleys below.  The aerial view of the flower show was breathtaking. Some clients had afternoon tea, some went for a short walk and others just sat around and enjoyed each other’s company.

At 3.30pm the buses departed for home and again the groups enjoyed Italian music – some clients had a snooze and others discussed the day. All clients shook hands and thanked Co.As.It. Community Services for such a great day. Most clients asked during and at the end of the trip about the next outings as they were wanting to book again.

Spectacular Brisbane Views

As part of Co.As.It.’s regular social outing program, in September, over 60 clients from both Brisbane north and Brisbane south enjoyed a stunning viewing of Brisbane from the Kangaroo Point Cliffs before driving out to the Greenbank RSL Club for a  delicious lunch.

The day dawned clear and bright and a wave of enthusiasm embraced the groups as they boarded their transport to go to Bar Spritz for morning tea.  This café is located in a pivotal position on the Brisbane River and is highly elevated to afford patrons’ outstanding views of the city skyline.  On arrival,  the clients were met with genuine delight by owner Sam and his vigorous grandfather Salvatore who at 93 yrs old continues to be an active member of the business.

The group was treated like royalty with a delicious morning tea of jumbo-sized cannoli,  Nutella doughnuts, and a lovely array of other delicious Italian sweets. The ‘best coffee in town’ was served by young Italian speaking staff who charmed the group while providing great service.

The resident large Australian lizard who is a regular guest at many tables soon ambled along for his cut of crumbs and leftovers fascinating many patrons who took photos of the special attendee.

Two energetic ladies dared to walk down and back up the 107 steps to the river and proudly returned to crow about their extensive climb.

Following the skyline experience, the group feasted on a generous seafood lunch at Greenbank RSL – the Grange Buffet has a reputation for providing an exceptional dining experience.

With laughter and food, the guests reveled in each other’s company and some were lucky to walk away with some extra pocket money after winning on the pokies.