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Reaching out to reconnect isolated seniors

Greenwood Neighbourhood Place Society launches two new programs
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The Greenwood Neighbourhood Place Society introduced this month initiatives that provide senior care kits to those who are interested, and also match volunteers with seniors seeking a friendly conversation.

SUNDRE — Recognizing the potentially detrimental health impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, a local organization is delivering two new programs to reach out and connect with any seniors in the community who have been left feeling isolated.

The Greenwood Neighbourhood Place Society (GNP), whose office is now open, introduced this month the initiatives that provide senior care kits to those who are interested, and also match volunteers with seniors seeking a friendly conversation, said Renate de Bruijn, community program coordinator.

The care kits contain a variety of items in a plastic bag such as:

• documentation about the pandemic, including available financial benefits and mental health advice

• an Alberta Health Services guide to hand washing and breathing exercise instructions

• a non-medical, reusable cloth mask

• activities like colouring pages with pencil crayons, word and Sudoku puzzles, as well as a dream catcher

Anyone interested in acquiring a kit is welcome to call the GNP office to either arrange to come pick one up or have one delivered at the curbside if they feel uncomfortable coming into the office, de Bruijn said.  

“Right now, we only have 12 (kits) — only one is spoken for,” she said when contacted on Thursday, June 11.

“If people know someone who would benefit from such a kit, they can also contact our office.”

Additionally, recently launched is the Friendly Caller Program, which she said was started due to the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the effort to provide an opportunity for isolated seniors to maintain a human connection.  

While nearly two-dozen people offered to volunteer for this program — including some from Calgary and Edmonton — so far two have been recruited and trained, she said.

“They took a psychological first aid course, caring for others.”

Once volunteers have been screened and trained, they can be matched up with an individual who would welcome a friendly phone call on a regular basis that is mutually agreed upon between the two, she said.

“They can determine a time themselves.”

Because of privacy issues, the program operates on a self-referral basis, she said.

“(But) we invite other people who know about somebody who could benefit from the program, to let them know.”

Since there are seniors who, during the best of times might find themselves isolated and lonely, she said GNP intends to continue providing the new initiatives post-pandemic.

“We’re planning to extend these programs after COVID is gone.”

Also resuming earlier this month was the weekly Wednesday walk, with a few people gathering to go for a stroll through Sundre, including one excursion to the south end of town to check out the new elevated boardwalk, she said.  

For more information or to ask any questions, call GNP at 403-638-1011.

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