To address Covid-19’s adverse impact on older adults’ mental wellbeing in our community, the Ignatian Volunteer Corps of Northeastern Pennsylvania (IVC) and NeighborWorks Northeastern Pennsylvania teamed up to develop the Connection and Resource Engagement (C.A.R.E.) Call Program.
This program arose from collaborations with several community partners, including the Moses Taylor Foundation, Lackawanna County Area Agency on Aging, Friends of the Poor, United Neighborhood Centers, Lackawanna Pro Bono and many more.
Specifically, from April 14, 2020 through June 30, 2020, eight Ignatian Volunteer corps members made over 430 C.A.R.E. Calls to older adults in the community. The C.A.R.E. Callers screened older adults for emergent needs. They also asked if the older adult would like a return telephone call within fourteen days. In ten weeks, the C.A.R.E Call Program positively impacted older adults residing in our community as follows:
- Approx. 25% of surveyed respondents had an “emergent need” (food insecurity, health risk, etc.);
- 60% of these emergent needs were resolved in fewer than 14 days via “warm handoff” referrals to local non-profits (most were resolved within 48 hours).
- Of the 212 respondents called, 114 or 55% of older adults answered “YES” to the following question: Would you like to be called back within two weeks?
- CARE Callers made return telephone calls to all 114 individuals, with most requesting 2-5 return telephone calls.These follow-up C.A.R.E. Calls ensured older adults in our community felt connected during the peak of Covid-19 social distancing and isolation.
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, older adults in our community, like many older adults across the country, were especially vulnerable to social isolation. C.A.R.E. Callers documented an increasing need for connection within older adults residing in our community. Moreover, when C.A.R.E. Callers asked older adults how the call made them feel, the answers were wonderfully surprising. The word cloud image above states their responses.
Kate Riley, one of the IVC members, said: “Being a part of the C.A.R.E. Call program has been, for me, a rewarding experience. The people that I talk with are so grateful for the call and willing to talk with me about what’s going on in their lives.”
“Older adults living in our community need meaningful connections now more than ever.” said Jason Kavulich, Director of the Lackawanna Area Agency on Aging. “This program is a creative way to connect older volunteers with those who benefit the most from their care and concern.”
To learn more about the C.A.R.E. Call Program, contact Mary Endrusick, Neighborworks Northeastern Pennsylvania at firstname.lastname@example.org or Teddy Michel, IVC Northeastern Pennsylvania Director at email@example.com.