Safe Seniors, Strong Communities Helping isolated seniors stay connected and cared for during COVID-19

IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 26, 2020

(Vancouver, B.C.) Seniors will be able to receive the support they need during the COVID-19 crisis through a new province-wide initiative, Safe Seniors, Strong Communities. Seniors can request volunteer help with grocery shopping, meal prep and prescription pick-up or receive friendly check-in call by simply dialing 2-1-1 or filling in an online form at www.bc211.ca.. The program is a new partnership between United Way’s Better at Home program, bc211 and the B.C. Government through the Ministry of Health. Once a senior contacts bc211, they will be connected with a volunteer who can help them. This service will be available 7 days a week during daytime hours.

“Seniors, who live independently with the help of family and friends, are facing deepened isolation and a heightened sense of loneliness and lack access to resources during the current crisis. Hearing a friendly voice, getting help picking up groceries and prescriptions is becoming increasingly difficult,” says Kahir Lalji, Provincial Director, Population Health, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “With Safe Seniors, Strong Communities available through bc211, help is just a phone call or a click away and will keep seniors healthy and connected.”

“We’re excited to be collaborating with bc211 and the Ministry of Health to deliver these essential supports to seniors. It is important that we support our most vulnerable citizens during this challenging time with local communities and community agencies being essential to these efforts,” says Michael McKnight, President & CEO, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “If you are a senior in need of support, we urge you to reach out.”

bc211 call centres will monitor calls and online applications both from seniors in need of assistance and from volunteers willing to offer their help. The information will then be forwarded to one of 24 designated Better at Home COVID response agencies across the province. The Better at Home agency will then match local volunteers with seniors who need help. All services provided will follow strict safety and social distancing protocols in accordance with the Ministry of Health guidelines. Services are available free of charge for all seniors 65 and over.

This is a joint initiative between the Ministry of Health, bc211 and United Way of the Lower Mainland.

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About bc211
bc211 is a Vancouver-based nonprofit organization that specializes in providing information and referral regarding community, government and social services in BC. Our help line services include 211, the Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service (ADIRS), the Gambling Support Line BC, the Shelter and Street Help Line, VictimLink BC, and the Youth Against Violence Line. To learn more, visit bc211.ca.

About Better at Home
Better at Home supports the non-medical needs of older adults in B.C. Better at Home is a program that helps seniors with simple day-to-day tasks so that they can continue to live independently in their own homes and remain connected to their communities. The B.C. government funds the program, United Way of the Lower Mainland manages it, and local non-profit organizations provide the services. Its unique ‘seniors planning for seniors’ approach means older adults contribute to the design, operation and evaluation of their local program. To learn more, visit betterathome.ca.

About United Way of the Lower Mainland
United Way of the Lower Mainland serves the needs of our local community and ignites the desire in everyone to improve this place we call home. Through United Way you can mobilize to address a local issue in your neighbourhood, collaborate with a network of partners to solve a problem, or donate to support our programs that create life-saving connections for local kids and seniors. To learn more, visit uwlm.ca.

Images available upon request

Interviews available with United Way of the Lower Mainland spokesperson, Kahir Lalji, Provincial Director, Population Health and bc211 spokesperson, Irene Chenin, Chief Executive Officer.

Media Contact
Vashti Singh
VashtiS@uwlm.ca
604-839-7710

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