Archway Community Services in Abbotsford is continuing to support seniors during the COVID-19 crisis.
The agency began the Mobile Seniors Outreach program in mid-March. When the program was announced on Facebook, phone calls started immediately coming in and haven’t stopped, organizers say.
The program includes volunteers delivering groceries or essentials and assisting with setting up online services such as banking, pharmacy, grocery shopping and communication apps.
It also provides daily wellness checks, friendly virtual visits and resources to other community supports such as the Archway Food Bank.
In late March, Archway was chosen as one of 24 hub sites in B.C. for the Safe Seniors, Strong Communities program created by United Way of the Lower Mainland, which received $50 million in funding from the provincial government.
Archway now oversees services from Langley to Lytton.
Working in conjunction with Mobile Seniors Outreach, staff and volunteers are doing daily wellness check-ins, delivering essentials, and assisting with supports, such as refilling prescriptions and making online connections to friends and family.
“It’s amazing what a phone call can do,” says Karen Kenny, the supervisor of Archway Better at Home. “There’s a sense of relief and connectedness you can hear through the phone.”
Even before COVID, studies showed that roughly one in five Canadians experience some degree of loneliness or social isolation, which can instigate or amplify adverse health issues.
“Seniors are at especially high risk as they may have lost their life partner, be disconnected from their social circle or children, and may be questioning their role in society,” says Megan Capp, manager of social justice, seniors, and housing at Archway.
“COVID has only amplified the loneliness facing seniors which, along with fixed pensions and other multiple barriers, can lead to seniors feeling trapped.”
Archway has long provided services to seniors, such as Meals on Wheels, which has seen a 40 per cent increase in orders during the pandemic and has adapted services to provide contactless delivery.
If needed, the cost of the meals is covered through Archway Food Bank donations. For seniors who can prepare their own food but have limited transportation, the Archway Food Bank offers a senior delivery service.
Housekeeping services through Better at Home are temporarily suspended to reduce in-person contact, as are the Lunch with the Bunch, medical transportation and income tax assistance programs.
Seniors who need assistance can contact BC211 by dialling or texting 211 or filling out a form at bc211.ca.
To volunteer, visit archway.ca/volunteer or bc211.ca.