STAY CONNECTED: Seniors can book a weekly phone or video chat with a University of the Sunshine Coast counselling student.
STAY CONNECTED: Seniors can book a weekly phone or video chat with a University of the Sunshine Coast counselling student.

USC students to connect with seniors

ISOLATED older people facing visitor restrictions during the global pandemic are being invited to book a weekly chat with friendly USC Counselling students.

The USC Counselling and Wellbeing Clinic has partnered with aged care health and wellbeing provider ComLink to offer the Tele-Friends program, a weekly phone or video connection for clients seeking support and companionship.

ComLink is now offering tele-health services at and 07 5390 1200 (Sunshine Coast) and 07 3487 0780 (North Brisbane).

Master of Counselling program coordinator Dr Mark Pearson said the final-year students had received evidence-based training on how to help boost resilience and would be closely supervised by qualified clinical counsellors during the calls.

"Our students know how to converse in a way that lifts spirits and enhances wellbeing at a time when people are feeling particularly isolated or lonely," Dr Pearson said.

"The plan is that they will develop an ongoing relationship with an older person and arrange a certain time each week for the call."

"These students know the importance of really hearing what someone is saying and letting them share their worries, but then also when to turn the conversation to positive memories and to remembering times when clients have coped well in the past, and how they can do so again."

Dr Pearson said many older people had clear memories of tough times, including World War II, and could be gently reminded of how they had found the resilience to cope.

"Students will be helping clients to review and reconnect with their strengths to re-tell and relive positive experience connected with positive emotions," he said.

"For us at USC, this is a very uplifting project. It's taken some creative thinking but it's actually a win-win because it helps our students complete their required client hours while supporting the community."

ComLink CEO Feda Adra said research showed that isolation could have a major impact on older Australians and vulnerable and lonely people, so it was important to maintain connection.

"We're honoured to partner with a dedicated band of volunteers and students from USC Australia to deliver this crucial contact, much-needed company and chat with our valued clients," she said.

The USC Counselling and Wellbeing Clinic is also offering tele-health counselling services to the community,

Phone 0458 811 220 or email counsellingclinic on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.