The Caller Reassurance Program for Seniors pilot was developed from comprehensive research into caller data reports. From the tens of thousands of calls placed in 2007 to Distress Centres, nearly half were from regular callers, specifically from senior callers. The agency invited this cohort of callers to participate in a small-scale pilot of this new, dedicated service - the Caller Reassurance Program for Seniors.

Participants receive regularly scheduled and personalized call-outs from our trained crisis responders. Since each regular call was tailored to meet the participant’s needs, we also provided a case-management approach and included discussions that ranged from medical appointment/medication reminders to developing a long-term coping plan.

Findings from the pilot demonstrated that the service had been essential in helping senior callers continue to live independently in the community and in preventing the downward spiral that can lead to premature and/or unnecessary institutionalization or death by suicide.

PROGRAM MISSION

The mission of the program is to improve the emotional quality of life of vulnerable, aged citizens while empowering them to remain engaged in the community and continue to live independent lives.

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BECOME A VOLUNTEER

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Community Outreach

 
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I have been a Distress Centres’ responder for two years and a part of the Caller Reassurance Program since I started. I have seen improvement in so many Caller Reassurance callers since I began. One lady that I regularly support deals with anxiety, and for the most part she has learned to manage it. When I do get in touch with her, it is always “great timing,” when I can listen to what is going on, and together we de-escalate her anxiety.
— Caller Reassurance Volunteer
A participant I feel has experienced profound change due to our continued care and support was diagnosed with a chronic condition many years ago and had been left feeling very isolated. She needed a lot of call-outs to help her find relief from chronic pain and physical discomfort. She has benefitted from our service in that she now feels less alone and genuinely cared about.
— Caller Reassurance Volunteer
Each week, I really look forward to talking to a woman who suffers from extreme anxiety and is easily upset. She is learning to face her fears, organize her day and complete whatever tasks she starts. Her dream is to get on a bus and go anywhere she chooses on her own someday, but right now it’s hard for her to find the courage to even walk out her front door. Our conversations usually begin with her needing to vent about something that is bothering her. Sometimes, she works on a task when we are on the phone, and she always thinks of something she will do when our conversation ends. She does most of the talking, and all she needs from me is a few words of validation and encouragement.
— Caller Reassurance Volunteer
We want our service users to feel as though they are accepted for who they are, supported no matter what their circumstances are, and very importantly, understood and respected as individuals. I am glad to be an integral part of the Caller Reassurance Program for Seniors’ team as it grows and hope to see even more ways of helping our callers in the future, like hands-on approaches, third-party call-ins for special issues and even more advanced case management.
— Caller Reassurance Volunteer
The Caller Reassurance Program is about empowering participants as much as possible to be productive in ways that are meaningful for them and leave them feeling less isolated and fearful, if only for a while. Everyone deserves to have people who care about them, as well as encourage them to reach meaningful goals and live up to their full potential. For some of our callers, the unconditional caring and encouragement that Caller Reassurance volunteers provide is the only emotional support they receive all day.
— Caller Reassurance Volunteer
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Outputs & outcomes

Our outputs - compared with previous years

The pilot was launched in 2007 and saw 11 seniors participate. With the relaunch taking place in 2012, 12 seniors were enrolled in the program, then more than doubling in 2013 to 38.  Today there are over 51 seniors enrolled in the program, which is expected to continue to expand due to demand.

 

Our output timelines – dated and recent

The pilot project ran from 2007 to 2010. In that time, 11 seniors were intensively supported. After the successful completion of the pilot project, the results were analyzed and assessed to ensure that the needs of the community were being adequately addressed. The program was relaunched in 2012 and 38 seniors were enrolled by the end of 2013.  In 2016 we have 51 in the program with an expansion plan for 100.

 

Our output - definition, and calculations

Maintenance of chronically mentally ill senior callers; addressing issues of marginalization/social isolation; support independent community living, and reduce the negative consequences of presenting concerns.

 

Our outcomes - mentioned

This program is designed to provide customized, intensive support through a designated call-out service for seniors who experience isolation due to chronic mental health concerns and situational crisis. It is intended to support their ability to remain in and be part of the community through the promotion of their emotional well-being and resiliency. The individualized case-managed approach to support will be facilitated by a senior staff member, who will supervise the frontline trained volunteers delivering the service.

 

Our outcomes - quantified

As of December 2016, 51 seniors are participating in this program. There is a 95% rate of supporting long-term maintenance of mental and physical health and wellbeing.  72% of our participants reported less loneliness, an increase in activity and reported more confidence in their ability to cope. Participants indicated satisfaction with the service offered and a fit between needs and type of support received.

 

Our outcomes - compared with previous years

 

Our outcomes - comparable to other charities

Although we have shared our learnings with other distress centres across Canada, the two that have so far adapted the program have changed it to the extent that the results cannot be easily compared. We look forward to continuing to work with other distress centres to help them implement this life-enhancing initiative.

 

Our outcome timelines – dated and recent

There are two distinct service user populations in this program: those who require intensive support for a shorter period of time due to a life transition (e.g., bereavement or a medical issue); and those who are experiencing chronic marginalization due to mental illness and/or isolation and need ongoing support.

 
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goals

Our goal is to create an emotional safety net for the at-risk and vulnerable seniors in our community and help them to continue to live independently and to prevent the downward spiral that can lead to premature and/or unnecessary institutionalization or death by suicide. We will also work with other senior services providers to ensure a continuum of care, minimizing or eliminating gaps in service.  

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For more information and to register please contact Tanja at tanja@torontodistresscentre.com.  

Please note that due to the demand for service in this program there may be a waiting list.  Please check into know current availability.