Research shows that many seniors are affected by social isolation – the absence of meaningful social relationships. Studies found that older adults who describe themselves as lonely face a 59% greater risk of functional decline and a 45% greater risk of death.
Not surprisingly, the pandemic left many seniors disconnected from community support. According to AARP, six in ten older adults experienced social isolation.
To reduce social isolation and increase connections the Council on Aging of Central Oregon debuted the Caring Connections program using a digital platform, Mon Ami.
The program currently connects 49 isolated seniors in Deschutes County with a volunteer phone pal for a weekly conversation. Running the program involves recruiting and managing volunteers and an investment in Mon Ami software.
Mon Ami Software Technology Rocks
Mon Ami is an operating system designed specifically for Aging & Disability agencies to make everything from case management to telephone reassurance 10x easier through automation, integrations, and thoughtful design.
Mon Ami’s system handles all coordination for in-person and virtual events in one calendar. Volunteers and service providers have their own app to receive a subset of client information and share back updates about how the client is doing in a HIPAA-compliant manner.
Recruiting Participants Takes Time
Typically, identifying and recruiting participants for a telephone reassurance program like Caring Connections is the most time-consuming and challenging step in the process.
It can take six months or longer to recruit clients because building trust and forming partnerships that offer positive referrals takes time. At least initially, it is unlikely for clients to sign up themselves. Instead, most programs receive 80% of their new clients through referrals from local partners like Meals on Wheels, social workers, doctors’ offices, etc.
Now that the Caring Connections program is up and running, Mon Ami software helps to streamline the operations of the telephone reassurance program by matching people and keeping track of who is calling whom, when, and how often.
Mon Ami Software Helps Us:
- Make matches between volunteers and clients
- Notify volunteers of new call requests, and allow them to view details of the request and sign up to be matched
- Mask phone numbers through a central designated phone system so that volunteers and clients don’t need to share personal contact information with each other
- Automatically track calls made between volunteers and clients, without volunteers needing to submit a call log or timesheet
- Collect feedback and notes about calls and see a history of client well-being and concerns
Thanks to a recent Central Oregon Health Council grant, the Council on Aging is expanding the Caring Connections program to Crook and Jefferson counties. Working together, we can find more resources, volunteers, and technology to close the isolation gap experienced by so many homebound, lonely seniors.
If you know someone who would be a good fit for Caring Connections or are interested in volunteering, please call our office at (541) 678-5483 to be connected to our Caring Connections team to learn more.