Province expands its 211 helpline to support seniors during pandemic

The B.C. government is expanding its B.C. 211 helpline to match seniors in need with volunteers willing to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

B.C. seniors’ advocate Isobel Mackenzie announced Thursday that the government has provided the necessary funds to expand BC 211, which was previously only available in Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island, to cover the entire province.

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“You can now call it from anywhere in the product, and you will reach a live operator,” said Mackenzie, who stressed that seniors, because of the health risk posed by COVID-19, need to stay away from people more than anyone else.

“If you are a senior or the family member of a senior who needs help getting groceries, getting medications and staying connected, call 211 or visit the website and we’ll try to match you up with a volunteer or some kind of service in your community.”

People who wish to help seniors with tasks that require leaving the home — or those who want to keep an isolated senior company with virtual visits — can volunteer either by calling the 211 phone line or visiting the BC211 website.

Mackenzie said all volunteers will have to undergo a criminal record checks.

“Most seniors live at home,” said B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix. “These are challenging times for seniors living at home throughout B.C. and we have a network of organisations and volunteers in the community that support seniors living at home and those networks as well have been stretched in recent times.”

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