Forgotten seniors thrown a lifeline, thanks to you

Donate online at RapidReliefFund.ca. More options below. 

It’s an image that sends chills: An elderly family member, living alone, suddenly falls and breaks a hip, lying on the floor for hours unable to call for help.

It doesn’t have to be that way. With your help, the Eldercare Foundation is throwing a lifeline to vulnerable, low-income seniors. A $14,200 grant from the Rapid Relief Fund to the foundation means 19 seniors living in Greater Victoria will be given a free medical alert, known as the SAFE Lifeline.

“SAFE stands for specialized assistance for elders,” executive director Lori McLeod said Wednesday. “And we want to make sure the minute a senior is in trouble, that friendly voice comes right on the phone and stays on the line with them until emergency help arrives. It’s very comforting and it’s immediate and it’s a wonderful program.”

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This week, the Rapid Relief Fund put another $869,000 to work in the community to support people in need. The fund — set up by the Victoria Foundation, the Jawl Foundation and the Times Colonist — has now raised more than $4 million.

Seniors tend to be the forgotten ones when it comes to charitable giving, said McLeod.

“This gift will enable us to clear our waitlist and provide piece of mind to 19 more seniors and their families. This is one less worry during this very difficult time.”

The Eldercare Foundation has partnered with Philips Lifeline and Island Health to deliver the program.

Island Health has home- and community-care case managers who support low-income seniors with health needs, said McLeod. “What became apparent was a lot of these seniors are living at home alone, at risk of a fall, which could lead to hospitalization or long-term care placements, but there was no real way to protect them,” she said.

Having a medical-alert system will help seniors stay in their homes longer. If they fall, someone will know they’ve had a fall. “They won’t end up on the floor with no one knowing. That’s just horrible.”

The medical alerts will be given to those with the greatest need, low-income seniors who could otherwise end up in hospital or long-term care.

“We want to keep them at home as long as possible. That’s where everybody wants to be. And that’s the best place for people.”

The SAFE program has already helped 86 seniors this year. McLeod notes that Island Health is trying to keep hospital beds open for COVID-19 patients, and long-term-care facilities are not wanting to take admissions, “so keeping seniors in their own homes safely is the right thing to do.”

The grant from the Rapid Relief Fund is a great start, said McLeod. And the generosity of the community continues — Robert Janus, director of communications for the Victoria Foundation, said a huge stack of cheques was opened this week and three were for $20,000. “This is amazing. It just warms your heart,” said Janus.

“Not that the big donations are so much more meaningful. The small donations are equally impressive. We have people who comment when they send in their electronic donation. They’ll say: ‘Here’s my $20 donation. I wish I could give more but I just think this is such a great thing and this is what I’m able to give.’ It really has been just an incredible community response.”

Nearly 8,000 people have donated to the fund, some more than once, he said.

The Rapid Relief Fund is working with trusted community partners in a variety of charitable organizations.

The new goal is to raise $5 million, Janus said.

“The need continues. We’ve helped a number of organizations, but there is more to be done.”

ldickson@timescolonist.com

HOW TO DONATE TO RAPID RELIEF

Tax receipts will be issued. If you are open to receiving your tax receipt by PDF, please include an email address with your donation.

• Online: RapidReliefFund.ca

• Phone: 250-381-5532

• Mail: Send cheques (made out to the Victoria Foundation) to RapidRelief Fund, Victoria Foundation, 200-703 Broughton St., Victoria V8W 1E2

The Rapid Relief Fund was created by the Victoria Foundation, the Jawl Foundation, and the Times Colonist to help people in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CHEK Television, Coast Outdoor Advertising and Black Press are helping to boost awareness. Every dollar received from donations goes out as grants to the community.

Donations are being distributed through the Victoria Foundation.

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