DO-SI-DO- From left, Andre Laliberte spun Ingrid Jansen during a square dance at the Golden Circle Seniors Resource Centre in Red Deer on Friday. Zachary Cormier/Red Deer Express

Golden Circle gearing up to broaden its community outreach

Board plans to launch more programs to help seniors ‘age in place’

Gearing up to extend it’s outreach into the community, staff and volunteers at the Golden Circle are excited about some plans to better help seniors ‘age in place’

“We are expanding what we will be doing in outreach – we’ve identified three gaps in services that we do not have in our outreach department,” said Monica Morrison, executive director.

Staff has also found, in talks with board members and local doctors, that many seniors weren’t even aware of some of the programs offered at the Golden Circle that could really make a huge difference in their lives.

Meanwhile, the new project is called HELP – Helping Elderly Live Proactively.

“We are adding onto a basket of services things like escorted shopping. The volunteer would go to the client’s home, pick up the client, take them to the grocery and build a friendship.

“The second thing we would be doing is telephone reassurance and security checks,” she said. “A lot of people don’t have family; they don’t have that daily contact to make sure they even got out of bed. And the third of this that I really like is called ‘Program Buddy’ where the volunteer goes into the home and establishes a relationship with the senior.

“Then, their next step is to get them out into the community to connect with things that are happening – whether it’s happening at the Golden Circle, the Seniors’ Downtown House, the library – wherever it may be,” she said, adding that studies show social isolation is very detrimental to a person’s health.

“This is preventable – let’s be proactive.”

Dr. Ray Hulyk, a volunteer with the Golden Circle, has been a driving force behind helping to formulate these initiatives, which he and Morrison hope to see up and running by April. Part of the work now involves attracting volunteers to help make HELP a reality in Central Alberta.

Hulyk said it’s all part of the goal to help keep people in their homes as long as possible. “Aging in place is the terminology that is used quite often,” he explained. “By offering the elderly some support services, I think we can achieve that.

“We have also formed a kind of special interest group which includes a retired lawyer, a retired clinical nursing instructor from Red Deer College and some interested people who have done volunteer work in the past, and who are interested in trying to enhance the existing outreach if possible.

“We want to look at new areas as well that could add value to an elderly person who is in their home and not really able to get out. So it’s part of the overall picture to help make sure they aren’t left behind; that we can get them connected to society in a special way.

“These visitation/companionship programs are highly important. I think we can reach a significant number of people.”

Hulyk added that once volunteers are established with clients, they will be able to see other needs that need to be met as well. “By being closer to the senior, we will be better able to identify what their needs are and tailor things to the individual.”

Morrison added that HELP will also serve as an effective referral source, too, through the medical professional.

“We hope to have volunteer training start up in March. The timeline is that we can really hit the ground running in April.”

For more information, call Monica Morrison at 403-343-6074, email info@goldencircle.ca or visit www.goldencircle.ca.

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