WoodGreen keeps seniors safe at home during COVID-19
Our Seniors Help line has seen a record number of calls for help from seniors seeking mental health, financial and other supports.
WoodGreen has long been a provider of innovative mental health services in Toronto. The Toronto Seniors Helpline launched in 2016 and has supported thousands of seniors and their caregivers in crisis together with partners from the Toronto Central LHIN, LOFT Community Services, Reconnect Community Health Services, South Riverdale Community Health Centre and Haven Toronto.
This service takes the pressure off hospitals, 911 and 211 staff and offers another way for seniors to receive models of support at a time they need it the most. This is done so community members like Anna can stay safe and healthy in their homes throughout this pandemic and beyond.
Since COVID-19 gripped the city of Toronto in March, a record number of calls flooded our Toronto Seniors Helpline – and there has been no sign of the need slowing down. On Easter Weekend alone, we received nearly 500 calls in two days – this is 10 times more than our normal volume!
Anyone can call the Toronto Seniors Helpline at 416-217-2077 to receive assistance including seniors, family members, health care providers, friends and neighbours. The response is tailored to each person’s unique set of needs.
Here’s what happens when a senior, caregiver, friend or neighbour reaches Toronto Seniors Helpline:
- Staff assess the nature of the call to determine the most appropriate response;
- If deemed necessary, a mobile team is dispatched to the senior’s home, within 72 hours of the call, even during COVID-19
- If emotional support is required it will be provided immediately over the phone to de-escalate the crisis or stress;
- Staff will create a plan for the client, including referrals and linkages to appropriate psychosocial, health and community resources.
In addition to the regular calls for help in response to a crisis, mental health need or connection to another agency or primary care, many of the new calls are coming in from seniors who are in dire need of food security, access to new government COVID19 benefits, require screening for COVID19 symptoms or are experiencing extreme social isolation.
“Since mid-March we’ve seen an increase in calls from seniors who are anxious and stressed about COVID 19 and how they can keep themselves safe as well as seniors who are feeling lonelier than ever or not sure how they are going to access food or other essential supplies,” explained Rochelle McAlister, who co-manages the Toronto Seniors Helpline team.
As a response, our staff at WoodGreen have developed new resources for seniors to navigate the COVID19 benefits, have researched food options across the Greater Toronto Area, and are now making hundreds of friendly ‘check-in’ calls to ease the anxiety of social isolation and are developing activity kits and virtual group bingo sessions.
“To the most caring Health Professional ever! Thank you for being so observant and caring and kind to my mother and son. Thank you also for your follow up visit. You are an amazing person who goes above and beyond the scope of your job requirements. We are so appreciative of your care.” Anna, a senior within our community.
WoodGreen will work to support people in Toronto who need mental health supports during this global pandemic, and we’ll be here for the people of Toronto when COVID-19 is behind us.