LETHBRIDGE, AB – A telephone support system, linking Lethbridge seniors to a friendly voice on the other end, is gaining steam across the province.
Keep in Touch was developed by Volunteer Lethbridge and piloted with funding from the COVID-19 Mental Health and Addiction Community Fund.
Clients are matched with volunteers, who call once or twice a week to check in, share stories and ensure basic needs are being met.
From April 2020 to September 2021, a total of 85 volunteers spent 1,787 hours chatting with 112 clients in the program.
Connie-Marie Riedlhuber is the Senior’s Coordinator with Volunteer Lethbridge.
She says the pandemic has been difficult on everyone, but the mental health of seniors, especially during the fourth wave, has suffered substantially.
“Many of us are getting out, you might be seeing your family a little bit now or meeting with small groups of friends or going out to a restaurant, but the seniors are not doing that yet.”
Riedlhuber says senior clients have indicated they’re feeling more depressed, have more anxiety and feel “unimportant and unloved.”
She says a weekly call can make a big difference in the life of a senior, adding the most important gift we can give them is the gift of time.
The program is in need of senior volunteers, so if you’re interested, you’re encouraged to contact Volunteer Lethbridge or visit the Keep in Touch website.
Funding for the program is also coming to an end in February 2022 and Riedlhuber says donations are welcome.
Since its inception, Keep in Touch has expanded into rural southern Alberta as well as a few communities further north including Spruce Grove, Westlock and Grande Prairie.
Riedlhuber was the guest speaker at the most recent Southern Alberta Council on Public Affairs presentation.