by Jill Woodley
Hello February! The short and sweet month of chocolate, the bluest of skies and longer days that lead us into Spring. It is also a time many feel alone with the cold weather and icy conditions, limiting leaving the home for the simplest of things. Meaningful connections with older adults who are at risk of isolation is critical. SCS is a volunteer driven organization. This means the programs and services often rely on trained and dedicated volunteers to facilitate them. Let’s focus on two programs that are designed to support independent living, while encouraging socialization and human connection.
Lacking access to transportation is one of the factors the National Seniors Council’s Report noted when studying the risks for seniors aging in place. In January 2023, there were 102 drives supporting members of North Grenville. These drives ranged from Kingston to Merrickville; Ottawa to Winchester. The transportation service relies on volunteers to drive clients to medical appointments, in addition to other trips like to the grocery store and to in-house programming at SCS. Recently, a member of the community, who was not familiar with SCS, called to inquire about the transportation service. They were scheduled for a minor surgery that required them to have the support of a driver due to the nature of the procedure. It was new to reach out to someone other than family and friends, but they realized that living independently sometimes meant finding other solutions to complement and support their living situation. The phone call opened up a conversation this community member was reticent to start, but in the end the reassurance of a drive and understanding the breadth of SCS services was a first step to knowing the support is there when they need it. Other clients use the service to access social activities at the centre, which in turn decreases social isolation and provides an opportunity to meet with friends without limitations. Volunteer drivers not only provide an essential service, they often lend a compassionate ear and reassurance during stressful times. They are part of the overall solution to supporting older adults to live independently at home, and a vital human connection for those who face isolation.
The Friendly Visiting program matches volunteers with clients for in-person or telephone visits designed to provide essential human connection. The scenarios for matches are not limited to people living alone, they also provide an opportunity for caregivers to take a moment to recharge while volunteers visit. Often it is the family, or a caring neighbor who reach out to SCS as a proactive response to a lonely living situation. SCS volunteers provide weekly visits that enhance a sense of belonging for clients, and a connection to community. It is an opportunity to provide reassurance for families who are concerned for their loved one, and to instill a sense of value in someone who may be feeling alone and disconnected. The winter months can be especially long. A friendly visitor match is an opportunity to help break the cycle of loneliness, and enhance both mental and physical wellness.
Winter is here with all its beauty and challenges. The programs and services at SCS are designed to provide the solutions you, or your loved one may need to encourage health and wellness while living independently. To inquire about volunteering or becoming a client, please reach out at 613-258-3203 or visit our website at www.seniorscs.ca.