It is estimated that more than 1.3 million seniors in Canada suffer from chronic loneliness. Studies indicate that health deterioration is twice as high (24.8% vs. 12.5%) when seniors are lonely. As health deteriorates, there is an increased burden for health care services and an earlier onset of death (45% more likely) for those that suffer from loneliness.
Keeping Connected provides social support and friendship to seniors with the goal of reducing their loneliness. Through reducing a senior’s level of loneliness, while reviewing and intervening regarding identified risks, we can help keep seniors safe, socially supported and well at home.
In order to service the many complex clients that remain at home, current home care services are aimed at supporting physical well-being and care needs, with little time left for social interaction. Keeping Connected offers a unique and cost-effective service that offers support, hope and a safe non-judgmental environment for seniors to feel less lonely.
A senior signs up by calling 1-844 KEEP-CON. Upon connecting with one of our trained and experienced companions, basic information is taken to develop and assess risk indicators and loneliness levels. A clinical tool called the UCLA Loneliness Scale is used to determine the clients’ loneliness. The length of the initial interaction is designed to be lengthy (40-60 mins) in order to help develop trust and rapport.
Calls are scheduled during the day, at the clients convenience, one call in advance. Clients are able to cancel their interactions 24hrs in advance or re-schedule depending on availability. Clients are typically contacted 1 to 3 times per week and calls average 20-30 minutes in length. We find a frequency that feels natural, is helpful, and that our clients can look forward to.
Our team of call companions is fluent in English, Urdu, Hindi, and Punjabi.
Depending on the frequency of the social interactions, risk indicators are asked to ensure the client is safe and is not at an increased risk from a health and safety perspective. Topics of conversation during these interactions have few limitations. Common topics include: sharing of recipes, story telling from the past, talking about family, discussing current events and technological advice.
As clients remain in the program, data is continuously collected and risks are reviewed. After the first 6 months, a follow up Loneliness Scale, risk review and client experience survey is completed. In addition, we can communicate with family members after each call to confirm if there are any issues. We make sure that our interactions have a positive, meaningful effect.