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Lonely No More peer support program encourages seniors to help seniors

·3 min read

NORTH PERTH – The Municipality of North Perth and Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health have partnered to launch the Lonely No More program in North Perth.

Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health, which is sharing its evidence-based Lonely No More program model and promoting this program in North Perth, is supported by the Government of Canada’s Emergency Community Support Fund and Community Foundations of Canada to facilitate this inter-municipal project. The Gateway Centre of Excellence initially launched the Lonely No More program in 2018 in Huron County to provide a free weekly phone-based program for isolated rural seniors.

Lonely No More program is a peer support program that encourages seniors to help seniors.

“It is a phone-based conversation group and the volunteers and the seniors communicate together,” said Program Coordinator Kelly Broughton. “They help each other, they enjoy stories, they share experiences and they can connect with others remotely when they are stuck at home when they are isolating or not able to get out into the community.”

There are two volunteers per elder circle and they are trained in a connected coaching program. The program is free for everyone and if people want to continue as a volunteer they can choose to do so after completing the training.

“It’s also a program for community members, business organizations and it’s a great way to learn to communicate with others and learn coping strategies to deal with stress during this time,” said Broughton. “Resiliency – that is the key to this program. So, it’s a very good education for personal self or for becoming a volunteer. It definitely is a great benefit and educational program.”

Lonely No More peer volunteers are empowered to be advocates in their community for isolated and at-risk older adults while also being able to address and confront facts that may cause isolation. Since the program’s inception, program feedback shows 75 per cent of participants and volunteers report the program had a positive impact on their lives.

Information about Lonely No More is available on the Seniors’ page at www.northperth.ca. To get more information by phone, call Broughton at 519-292-2055 or the Gateway Centre of Excellence in Rural Health at 519-292-6862.

“It’s usually family members who find our contact information who are looking for somebody for a loved one or they have a next-door neighbour that they know might be isolated or could benefit from socializing with others, so referrals are great,” she said. “That is usually the way it starts and with word-of-mouth.”

Broughton said that although the Lonely No More Program is focused on seniors, they are welcoming suggestions for future programs that can meet the needs of all community members.

“If there are programs or resources we can connect people with or help run and participate in we definitely want to make that a future goal so everybody can participate in a program that meets their needs,” she said. “We’re just encouraging participants… family members or neighbours who know somebody who might be isolated and can benefit, that’s going to be the best exposure for the program and getting people connected with the need right now with social isolation.”

Colin Burrowes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Listowel Banner

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