February 2014

Elder outreach programs offer security and well-being

2-1-1 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast's program would not be possible without committed volunteers like Marcia Resnick.

For vulnerable seniors living alone, daily welfare calls may save lives in critical situations — and, even more often, provide important social support.

Through two grants, The Jim Moran Foundation helps fund the Sunshine Telephone Reassurance Program at 2-1-1 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast and the Senior Touchline Program at 2-1-1 Broward. Both organizations are improving the quality of life for hundreds of isolated, elderly residents with free "check-in" calls by caring volunteers and staff at designated times each day. Referral services and assistance are also offered whenever needed.

Quarterly brunches offer 2-1-1 Broward clients, volunteers and staff a chance to connect in person. Pictured from left to right: Gail Battle, volunteer; Vivienne Wilson, client; and Melinda Pollard, volunteer services coordinator.

A 2-1-1 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast volunteer recently called her client, Mrs. P, at their scheduled time. When no one answered, several more attempts were made over the next hour. Still unable to reach her, the volunteer called Mrs. P's emergency back-up, a neighbor who has a key to her home. Mrs. P was found in her bathtub where she had fallen the night previously. Paramedics were immediately called. Fortunately, she was not seriously injured. Soon after the incident, Mrs. P expressed gratitude to 2-1-1 — adding that when the phone rang, she knew help would be on the way.

Receiving a phone call is significant for seniors who may not have interaction with anyone else that day. One of 2-1-1 Broward's clients recently commented, "I feel that someone cares about me. I find that when they call, they really care that I am all right." Another summed up the program's value by simply saying, "I feel that I am not alone."

Interested in getting involved? Visit the 2-1-1 Broward and 2-1-1 Palm Beach/Treasure Coast websites for more information.

Initiative helps seniors recover more safely at home

After delivering successful outcomes at three Jacksonville-area hospitals, the United Way of Northeast Florida partnered with The Jim Moran Foundation to expand its Transitional Care Management Program into St. Vincent's Medical Center.

With a goal of improving patient well-being and reducing hospital readmissions, this newly-funded grant provides an Elder Care Advocate to ensure seniors leaving the hospital have the necessary support and resources to recuperate safely and comfortably at home.

An 87-year old woman was recently hospitalized with fractured ribs from a fall. Prior to discharge, the Elder Care Advocate met with her and learned that she was anxious about accomplishing daily activities and recovering at home alone while her son was at work. Through this program, the United Way provided meal delivery and housekeeping to aid in her wellness and sense of security. She was also connected with the local senior center's companion program.

Since launching at St. Vincent's two months ago, more than 50 patients have received assistance. The United Way expects to reach an additional 500 seniors this year.

Connect with United Way of Northeast Florida on their website.

Shelter and hope for homeless seniors

In addition to a safe, comforting place to sleep, seniors are given welcome kits with a new towel, washcloth, toiletries and gift card for food.

In Broward County, the Taskforce Fore Ending Homelessness locates and links individuals and families with emergency shelter and services. Last year, the organization served nearly 4,500 people in need of housing assistance. Of those, more than 350 were over the age of 60 — with the oldest being 91.

Through a new grant from The Jim Moran Foundation to help stabilize homeless seniors, the Taskforce hired a full-time Geriatric Outreach Worker and collaborated with another local nonprofit, HOPE South Florida, to open a furnished, two-bedroom house for temporary shelter. Seniors can stay from one day to one week while they receive specialized support and referrals for longer-term housing.

In 2014, the Taskforce plans to shelter 100 elderly individuals in the home, as well as offer enhanced services including transportation, referrals to housing opportunities, applying for benefits, and linkages to other resources for an additional two hundred seniors in need.

To learn more about the Taskforce Fore Ending Homelessness and its senior housing initiative, call 954-525-3494.