From Charlotte Owen, Client Services Supervisor for Meals on Wheels People
In a time when staying at home is required and social distancing is considered normal, isolation is being brought up in conversation more and more. Feeding seniors and reducing social isolation is at the heart of the work we do at Meals on Wheels People. When the pandemic was declared and the stay at home orders were announced, our day to day turned upside down. We shifted from Monday through Friday delivery to once a week. We incorporated well check calls into our service model. And we implemented programs to reduce isolation.
With our reduced delivery days, implementing new programs targeting social isolation are greatly important. All of us need to connect with our peers and community. All of us need to be reminded we aren’t alone—we are all in this together. Our seniors who were already experiencing isolation, are now even further distanced from social opportunities. We quickly responded to this vital need with our Friendly Chat program in early April and we’re planning our Peer to Peer program for a June launch.
Friendly Chat connects clients with a volunteer for a weekly phone call to help alleviate social isolation and build community. Volunteers sign up to call 5 participants using a mobile phone app. Clients and volunteers connect about travel, pets, hobbies—any myriad of topics. Volunteers are experiencing the same isolation as many of our clients. And many volunteers are seniors themselves who may not have the nutritional needs of our clients, but greatly benefit from the interactions. It’s truly a win-win for all involved. Here’s a link to a local news item that featured one of our seniors who participates in Friendly Chat.
Peer to Peer
Our new Peer to Peer program focuses on connecting our clients with one another in a group setting over the phone. Connecting with your peers is an essential part of our humanity. Shared experiences create connection and community. Groups will focus on topics such as books, travel, pets, and other hobbies. Groups will initially be facilitated by a staff member with the hope that our clients will want to facilitate the groups themselves down the road.