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Visions Journal

A reminder that this article from our magazine Visions was published more than 1 year ago. It is here for reference only. Some information in it may no longer be current. It also represents the point of the view of the author only. See the author box at the bottom of the article for more about the contributor.

Seniors Friendly Visitors Program

Jackie Rankel

Reprinted from "Seniors' Mental Health" issue of Visions Journal, 2002, No. 15, p.35

The Seniors Friendly Visitors Program is offered through the Volunteer Bureau at Canadian Mental Health Association for the Kootenays. This program addresses the risks and needs of the isolated frail elderly in the community. Seniors Friendly Visitors are trained volunteers who are willing to commit two to three hours per week to visit a senior. Included is a mandatory seven-hour basic training specific to seniors visitation. Visitors may choose to visit with the senior in their home or take them on an outing, help with house or yard work, play cards, or any other activity agreeable to both.

Contributing partners include Involve BC, The Vancouver Foundation, and the Interior Health Authority.

At-risk seniors are referred to the program through a variety of sources, including the Cranbrook Community Response Network, various social services agencies, mental health organizations and family members.

The Seniors Friendly Visitors Program is designed to provide services to:

  • socially isolated seniors

  • at-home seniors requiring assistance to continue independent living

  • seniors living in supportive housing

  • those seniors at risk of self-neglect due to lack of family or social supports

  • seniors at risk of physical, emotional, psychological or financial abuse by others

  • seniors at risk of substance abuse

  • physically disabled seniors

  • seniors who are reluctant to, or not capable of, making referrals for themselves.

Volunteers provide services that include:

  • basic assessment of domestic conditions (volunteers may be the first to notice changes in function or habits that add to a participant’s risk)

  • social interaction; this may include home visiting, visits to friends or family, or social activities

  • home care, maintenance, and other services

  • friendship and understanding.

Community benefits include:

  • quality-of-life improvement for at-risk seniors

  • an anticipated reduction of demand on health and community care services

  • greater integration of seniors into the community

About the author
Jackie is from Cranbrook, and works with the Volunteer Bureau for CMHA for the Kootenays

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