The Seniors Support Program was developed following a review of the Baycrest long term care wait list of over 900 individuals. This review highlighted that clients and families lacked information and knowledge about available community services designed to promote safe ageing and identified strategies to meet the needs of isolated seniors and their caregivers in the community.  Established in 1997, Seniors Support Program provides support to seniors and family caregivers residing in the community through friendly visiting utilizing telephone, electronic mail, and Skype free of charge.

The program is delivered by a group of 27 volunteers in over 10 languages and ensures that each client receives a contact every week. The program makes over 10,000 client contacts per year and assists clients in coping with health concerns, being new in Toronto, experiencing loss, isolation, recent discharge from hospital, and caregiver support. Individuals receive a telephone assessment by an expert community Social Worker, and following this assessment, the Volunteer Coordinator matches the client with a trained volunteers based on the client’s interests and language needs.

The goal of Seniors Support Program is to offer community services clients encouragement, helpful information and companionship as needed through a friendly visit. For clients requiring greater support, the community Social Worker assists with case management and/or referrals to other services within Baycrest Health Sciences or within the community. The services provided positively contribute towards alleviating the stress and anxiety often experienced by isolated and home bound seniors in the community. Since 2010, the program has also been offering follow up telephone support for clients discharged from the Baycrest Day Treatment Centre to enhance care transitions and support clients in maintaining gains made during program. The volunteers provide feedback on clients’ progress to the Day Treatment team. After the formal 3 months, the clients have the option of continuing with the friendly visiting service offered by the Seniors Support Program.

Over the phone friendly visiting services delivered by volunteers working in partnership with professional staff provides an easily accessible service at a low cost for clients who identified a need for easily accessible, consistent, and reliable services in their preferred language from a familiar provider.

Contact Information:

Title: Program Director, Community Services

Contact information: bedelstein@baycrest.org

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