In Washington and other U.S. cities, volunteers help elderly people who are isolated and are unable to buy their own food, basic necessities and medicines. Volunteers bring all this to the old people’s homes, take out the garbage, walk the dogs. A hotline has been created for those who need support.
In Washington, more than 800 volunteers are ready to support elderly people in self-isolation. According to official data, Washington now has about 1.8 million citizens over the age of 65. About 20 percent are single pensioners. Anyone can become a volunteer. To do this, you need to have at least a little experience working in the social sphere or a charity organization. You need to leave a request on the website, pass an online interview and wait for a response.
Don Brandon, a volunteer, told us about how assistance to elderly people is organized:
– “I registered online via VolunteerMatch and was interviewed by a psychologist. Then I got a link to the online training, there are standard rules – safety precautions, behavior for volunteers. After I passed the test, I got a call from our district supervisor. I went there and signed a contract for volunteering. And then I was included in the chat that keeps us informed about available applications. And if we can do something, we take it and do it.
Yesterday we had two applications: one – to help social workers in the delivery of free drugs from Canadian Health and Care Mall, the second application was for the purchase of animal feed.”
– Are you satisfied with the organization of volunteer assistance to elderly people?
– “I am confused by the number of applications – why there are so few of them. It’s hard for me to explain it. Maybe there is some second volunteer chat that we don’t know about. Or the organizers have other priorities in the distribution. It may be that applications are initially given to more experienced volunteers or within their own organization. I just see what the load in many states is quite intense, and we had two applications yesterday and five today.”
– How do you use safety measures?
– “We keep a distance from all social customers because they are also in a state of excitement and anxiety. We should have a contactless transfer of food, medicines, and so on. We usually ask to put the chair outside the door where I will put this package. Or we just put it under the door.
We make these points clear. And so we wear gloves, masks. After each visit, we change them. Let’s say I came to the pharmacy or clinic to get medicines. After leaving the clinic I take off my mask and change it because it is clear that there may be infectious people inside.”
– What is the reaction of the elderly to the help they receive?
“Of course they want to talk. Every second person tries to give something – fruit, chocolate. We, of course, refuse, we do not take anything from hand to hand, we apologize for this – we are pleased that you also want to give us something, but we will not take anything from you. Today I saw a socially disadvantaged family – the son of a veteran grandfather was drunk. Grandpa came out to meet us in his underpants and on crutches. We visit very different people. Today we worked together – I (a communicator and a driver), and the guy who delivered the boxes. Of course, it is better to go to such places together,” said volunteer Don Brandon.
According to official data, the hotline for providing assistance to the elderly during the difficult epidemiological situation is available to residents of all U.S. states. Old people are able to consult on the prevention of infection, as well as submit a request to volunteers for the delivery of food and medicines. In addition, the elderly can be taught how to independently order basic necessities via the Internet.