SENIORS’ HEALTH: Volunteer drivers will help get you home safe

Volunteers will drive seniors home, help them in the house and make sure they are settled in and safe.

  • Jul. 5, 2016 1:00 p.m.

The Seniors Health Network poses a monthly hypothetical health care question to a healthcare professional.

Kathy McIntyre, project manager for the South Surrey White Rock Seniors Health Network was asked the following:

“The last time I was in the hospital I was discharged and had to go home alone in a taxi. I was very nervous and uncomfortable because my condo had been empty for 10 days. I didn’t have any groceries in the house and of course, I live alone. I am 86 years old and I use a walker so it was difficult for me to get around and get settled in, plus it is very lonely when your family is far away. None of my friends drive anymore. Are there any services available in the community to assist?”

The Seniors Health Network has led the development of a community program for exactly this kind of situation.

Peace Arch Hospital, Seniors Come Share and Sources created a partnership and developed and implemented the Volunteer Assisted Discharge program currently running at Peace Arch Hospital.

Two volunteers are in the hospital Monday through Friday, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., to assist seniors who are being discharged home.

These volunteers will drive seniors home, help them in the house and make sure they are settled in and safe.

Additionally, Sources has generously offered the services of its food bank, and if the senior doesn’t have groceries at home, they can stop on the way and pick up a ‘care package’ from the food bank that will last a few days. The volunteers will also stop at the Red Cross loan cupboard, if the senior needs to borrow any equipment.

It would be a perfect service for you to utilize, and it also works well for seniors whose family are at work, are busy with their own families or for some other reason are unable to help their family member go home safely.

The catchment area for the program is east to 192 Street and north to 40 Avenue, but the volunteers do try to be flexible when they’re able.

Volunteers do not provide care and are really to be seen as a substitute family or friend who offers a ride home and companionship. We encourage the volunteers to stay and have a cup of tea or make one for the senior, if they are able.

All seniors taken home by a volunteer get a small binder of community resource information and a referral to either the White Rock or Surrey fire department, if the patient doesn’t have a smoke detector. The fire service will make a visit and install a smoke detector at no charge and will do a brief safety inspection of the senior’s home.

Each senior also gets a referral to Seniors Come Share, so they can be added to the ‘telephone tree’ and get a weekly check-in call from a volunteer. They each get a ‘better at home’ referral, so their need for home support can be assessed. Volunteers are carefully selected for this program and receive a thorough orientation, as well as continuing education throughout their time with the program.

Volunteers are chosen for their caring and compassionate behaviours, and we are very proud of the team of volunteers we currently have. They all love doing this work and attest to the importance of companionship for seniors going home from hospital alone.

This service is provided at no cost to seniors, and the costs of developing and running the program have been graciously covered by John Block and his family’s Foundation.

Without this support the program would not have been possible.

If you are interested in being a volunteer with this exciting new program, please call Carrie at Sources 604-542-5358.

The South Surrey White Rock Seniors Health Network is a coalition of seniors service providers working under the auspices of the Mayor of White Rock’s office. For information on community resources, visit sswr.fetchbc.ca. If you have a question for publication, please email seniorshealthnetworksswr@gmail.com