B.C. expands 211 phone line for seniors during COVID-19 crisis - InfoNews

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B.C. expands 211 phone line for seniors during COVID-19 crisis

Image Credit: ADOBE STOCK
March 26, 2020 - 1:51 PM

The province is expanding two services for seniors to help them cope with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“My message to seniors is do not be afraid,” seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie said during a news conference today, March 26. She said seniors are the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

The idea is to expand the existing 211 helpline for seniors so it can handle more calls (up to 100,000 a year) to connect those wanting to help seniors to the seniors who need help. Services include food and medicine pickup and delivery, but also checking in on seniors and providing other services such as taking them to appointments.

"This is a trying time for all of us, but especially for seniors across B.C.," Health Minister Adrian Dix said. "I am so proud and appreciative of the work that the seniors advocate and all members of the Seniors Working Group have done to build a plan for safely supporting seniors at home and in community through the COVID-19 pandemic."

Money will also be spent to expand the Better at Home program that helps seniors who are living at home.

"Seniors in B.C. are especially vulnerable to the impact COVID-19 will have on their health and their ability to stay connected with others," Mackenzie said. "The outpouring of calls from people who want to help our seniors is inspiring, and using bc211 to match British Columbians who want to help, with seniors who need some help to stay connected and meet basic needs, is a perfect match."

There are 68 agencies throughout the province who deliver these services. They will get additional funding to expand and 24 agencies will be designated as COVID-19 designated response agencies.

Mackenzie explained that the existing support networks seniors living at home have through family and friends are strained because some of those helping are self-isolating or who may be sick themselves.

At the same time, there’s been a flood of calls from people who cannot work because of the pandemic and want to help seniors.

To learn more about bc211 go here.

To learn more about United Way Better at Home Program go here.

Seniors and people who want to volunteer, and who are well, can call bc211 or go to the website here.

— This story was updated at 3:52 p.m. Thursday, March 26, 2020, to add more information.

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