Phoning New Friends During COVID-19

on the Monday, April 27, 2020

One of the biggest challenges of the pandemic has been taking care of vulnerable people who may fall through the gaps. While there has been an understandable focus on people living in residential aged care homes, those in retirement or independent living villages are also facing challenges.

Once strict social distancing was put in place, those in villages missed out on the day to day activities that kept them connected, such as coffee with friends, craft or a game of pool. Many also don’t have the skills or equipment to engage online.

To fill that gap, staff at Uniting started Project CARE. A virtual call centre was created and began ringing each of the 2400 residents of 82 villages across NSW and ACT. The calls will continue as long as social distancing is in place.

Head of Village Services, Keith Morgan, said “A single phone call can be incredibly powerful for someone who is feeling isolated.

“Some residents don’t have family nearby, and rarely see people beyond the village, so we felt it was important to look at other ways to support them.

“We quickly discovered that some people didn’t know how to get groceries or medicines if their usual support network stopped coming, while others were just really bored and desperate for something to do.”

The Project CARE team is asking the residents how they are and whether they have support from family and friends.

The team is also checking that each resident’s INS Lifeguard emergency call system is working, should they need medical assistance in a hurry.  

If required, they link residents to services such as online grocery delivery or home care.

But mainly, the calls show them that somebody cares.

“It’s all about being a friendly voice and a listening ear for our residents, so they know they’re not alone,” shared Keith.  

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