Red Cross volunteers reach out to seniors with a friendly check-up call

Topics: Alberta, Community Health, Emergencies and Disasters in Canada, Volunteer
December 08, 2020

Luisa Castro knows her volunteers have formed a bond with a lonely senior just by looking at their faces when they hang up the phone.
“When volunteers end the call,” she says, “I can sometimes see tears in their eyes because the connection has been so strong. And more than that, they feel so happy because they’re helping the community.”  Senior woman on phone
Castro is the coordinator for the Wellness Check-in Calls for Seniors program for the Red Cross in Alberta. She and her 24 volunteers make phone calls to seniors who have received a loan from the Red Cross Health Equipment Loan Program (HELP). These are seniors who are recovering from recent injuries or surgeries, and may also be isolated from friends and family due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the calls is simply to find out how they are doing, ask if they have any questions about the equipment, and to see if they need any additional supports during this difficult time.
“Our main purpose is just to listen,” Castro explains, “to find out if they have any needs, and if they do, we can provide the phone numbers and other community resources. But more than anything, it’s just to listen and be a friendly voice on the phone… They love to tell us what they’re going through, often adding a bit of their own story, and for us to give a little comfort.”
The volunteer team provides referrals to make sure clients are linked with other organizations that can assist with challenges posed by the pandemic, like the need for grocery delivery services. On occasion, the team will make a second call a couple weeks later to make sure the senior still has everything they need.
Volunteers get training in several areas before they start making calls, including conversation skills, providing client supports and communication strategies.
“We never know what we’re going to hear when we call someone,” says Castro, adding, “it can be emotional at times. So, the training, it’s all about self-care for our team and others.”
Castro is heartened to report that among the 200 calls they make each week, the majority of the seniors say that they are doing well; that they have access to the services they need and have friends or family to help. She says they are often very touched that someone would call simply to check up on them.
“They say, ‘You are angels. Thank you for taking the time to call’.”
The Red Cross Wellness Check-in Calls for Seniors program is recruiting volunteers in Alberta! Learn more.
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