In Australia, a new breed of flexible worker is helping to tackle the problem of social isolation via an online platform. Here’s how you can be a part of it.
The reports are in; loneliness is a global phenomenon, and governments around the world are mobilizing to address the issue. Since 2017, China has run a program to deliver home-based support to the ageing in rural areas, with a big focus on providing companionship. Ireland’s ‘loneliness taskforce’ is tackling the problem across all segments of society, not only communities typically prone to isolation. Scotland has invested in a similar program to help build community connections and in the UK overall, a ‘Loneliness Minister’ is responsible for a strategy that includes investing in under-used community spaces.
There’s a common thread to these approaches to addressing loneliness, and it lies in utilising potential connections within existing communities. While the Australian government has stopped short of appointing a Minister for Loneliness, Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt has expressed his hope that this type of neighborhood support systems develops organically.
It’s not just the elderly that are seeking companionship. The ‘Shut out’ report released in 2009 by the National Disability and Carer Council acknowledged that too many people with disabilities are isolated and lonely. Ten years on, in a new NDIS landscape, people with disabilities have greater flexibility to create teams of people to support them with different aspects of their life. For many, one big area is helping to build connections and engage with the community.
If you’re interested in providing companionship to those who might be facing social isolation, it can be hard to know when someone needs, or wants, your company. That’s where Mable comes in.
Be part of the solution
Mable is an online platform that helps people to find and directly hire independent care and support workers from within their local community. But while many workers using the platform have experience and qualifications in nursing, aged care, disability or allied health, you don’t have to.
Companionship and social support are important aspects of providing person-centred support to people who are ageing, or those who have a disability. If you’re interested in providing companionship, you can create a profile on the Mable platform, describing any skills and relevant experience you may have, personal interests and the services you’d like to offer. It’s free to sign up, and you can choose what hourly rate you charge and the hours you would like to work.
To get approved on the platform, you’ll need to provide a Police Check and a Working with Children Check if you intend to work with kids, and we’ll contact a couple of professional references who can vouch for you. Once you’re approved, potential clients can see your profile and contact you directly via the platform. You’ll also be sent emails with any relevant jobs in your area that clients have posted.
What does companionship work look like?
Companionship means different things to different people. Essentially, you’re there to provide company. You’re a trusted support person. Someone to have a chat with, a scrabble partner, or tech support for someone who needs help to surf the net. At times, clients might ask you for a little help around the house, or assistance with getting out and about. This could include everything from helping them to prepare meals to grocery shopping, assisting someone to socialize with others or attend events, classes and activities in their community. It might mean just taking them for a coffee.
Once you’ve started communicating with a potential client, it’s a good idea to get a clear understanding about what the job will entail, and what they are hoping to get out of your time together.
What kind of people are our community of clients looking for?
Clients using Mable to find support in their local community come from all walks of life. So, a great companion can be just about anyone, so long as they’re compassionate, friendly and are the right personality fit for their client.
When you’re creating your Mable profile, make sure you mention any personal interests or hobbies you have that might come in handy when working with clients through the platform. Do you like to shop? Maybe you’ll find a client that’s looking for someone to support them to expand their wardrobe. Are you interested in gardening? You could find someone who wants a helping hand in the yard. Are you the outdoor type? They might be, too.
You can find inspiration from some of our favourite requests that have come in from Mable clients.
Think you’re ready to find flexible, meaningful work supporting someone in your local community to stay connected? Sign up today.