Seniors' support agencies still offering rides, meals, check-ins
Interactive teleconference allows seniors to listen to lectures, readings, even jokes
While seniors' activity centres across Ottawa have shut down to stem the spread of COVID-19 among the vulnerable elderly population, staff continue to co-ordinate volunteers, plan meals and reach out by phone.
At The Good Companions, the kitchen is preparing fresh food to be delivered by Meals on Wheels volunteers. While many family doctor appointments have been cancelled, transportation is still available for seniors heading to urgent medical appointments.
"They can contact us," said executive director Monique Doolittle-Romas. "We will work together to find a way to make sure that those seniors receive a ride."
The Good Companions also offer something called Seniors' Centre Without Walls, a free service available to any Ottawa senior with a telephone. It's an interactive teleconference that allows seniors and adults with disabilities to listen in on lectures, readings, music and even jokes.
"We will be running at this point two programs per day and people can just connect with each other over the telephone. All of the information will be on our website," said Doolittle-Romas. "We want to provide that calm, reassuring voice and an opportunity for people to connect with one another."
The program is open to all seniors, not just Good Companions members.
Other seniors' centres including Olde Forge Community Resource Centre and Abbotsford House at the Glebe Centre are continuing check-in calls and to vulnerable elders who aren't leaving home right now.
"Staff are making telephone reassurance calls to the clients we serve," said Karen Anne Blakely, director of community services at Abbotsford House. "And we're helping them connect with businesses and services."
Some of the centres are also helping seniors set up delivery programs with local grocery stores so they don't have to venture out to the stores themselves.
Health officials are recommending everyone, but especially seniors, stay home to help slow the spread of the respiratory illness.