Peers Reaching Out in White Rock and South Surrey

Thursday, December 13, 2018

A revolutionary program from Seniors Come Share Society is changing the landscape for isolated seniors in our community, one peer at a time.

The Peers Reaching Out (PRO) project is halfway into its three-year tenure and has trained 18 peer volunteers to assist older adults with making connections to social activities, meal and transportation programs and other services that support their overall wellbeing.

“Many of the isolated seniors in our community were over-utilizing health care services because they lack other means of support and social connection,” says Program Coordinator, Lucie Neliba. “The goal of Peers Reaching Out is to get them connected to community programs and help build the confidence they need to continue on their own.”

PRO volunteers receive 20 hours of training and are then matched with a senior in need. Seniors spend an average of eight weeks with their Peer, meeting for 2-6 hours per week.

“Each senior participant comes to us on a referral basis from health care providers in the community and we’ve had 120 referrals since the program launched 18 months ago.”

During the eight weeks with their Peers, participants learn such things as how to access their medical supplies and prescriptions, use public transportation, regain control of their finances, begin to make new friends and reconnect with old ones. Hazel is in her nineties and simply needed to learn how to use her scooter with confidence after suffering a recent stroke. Her Peer Volunteer was there alongside her as she attempted her first trip to the grocery store. The pair stayed together while Hazel picked up a few groceries and a prescription and then Hazel felt comfortable enough to head back home on her own.

“I am thrilled with the results of the first 18 months of the program,” Lucie says. “We’ve been able to help more than 80 seniors in White Rock and South Surrey maintain their independence and access the services they need to improve their lives.”

The Peers Reaching Out program is funded through a Peace Arch Hospital Foundation Healthy Community Grant. Seniors Come Share Society is looking for additional funding partner(s) to keep this great work going beyond the grant period.

If you would like more information about the program or have a senior to refer, please contact Lucie at 604.531.9400 ext.205. The program will also be running a free training session at the end of January 2019 for new Peer Volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, please call Taya at 604.531.9400 ext.207.