Share Family and Community Services has been declared a COVID-19 response hub to help Tri-City seniors get groceries and other support during the pandemic.
With seniors at the greatest risk for contracting the disease and many staying home to avoid infection, new solutions had to be found to ensure that older people could still get groceries, prescriptions or a friendly phone call.
“Groceries shopping will, by and large, be the most significant,” said Claire MacLean, Share’s executive director.
Since the program was announced by the province and the United Way Thursday, Share has already received a number of calls for help from people 65 plus and volunteers willing to help.
“We’ve already had our first referrals and volunteers come through this morning,” MacLean told the Tri-City News Friday. “We are going to be in ongoing conversations about the volume and what the local demand is here.”
Funding from for the program comes from a $50-million boost to seniors’ supports in B.C. to deal with need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Seniors seeking assistance and volunteers willing to help are asked to contact bc211 (dial 2-1-1 or visit www.bc211.ca). The information will then be forwarded to one of 24 designated Better at Home COVID response agencies across the province. The Better at Home agency will then match local volunteers with seniors who need help.
To be a volunteer, you have to pass a criminal record check and a COVID-19 self assessment.
All COVID-19 Response services are by donation or no cost, according to an FAQ.
Once a senior contacts bc211, they will be connected with a volunteer who can help them. The service will be available seven days a week during daytime hours.
The following services are offered, as needed:
• phone and/or virtual check-ins;
• grocery shopping and delivery;
• meal preparation and delivery;
• prescription pickup and drop-off.
In the Tri-Cities, Share, which already administers the Better At Home program for seniors, will administer the program.
MacLean said the help is especially needed here because it has a large number of seniors relative to the overall population.
And it comes as grocery stores struggle to keep necessities on the shelves and fill delivery orders.
This week, one Coquitlam senior called The Tri-City News because the grocery delivery she had been waiting for several days to be filled was cancelled.
“They should concentrating their delivery services on seniors,” Katie Andic said.
Save-On-Foods has increased the number of delivery vans but has been overwhelmed by demand, according to a spokesperson.
“At this time, we are experiencing extremely high web traffic and demand for online shopping and are encouraging any customers that can shop in-store to please do so and leave our online delivery options available for those who are not able to get to the store — including seniors, people with disabilities and of course, those who are ill,” Save-On said in a statement.
It’s hoped that volunteers who can shop for seniors will ensure they get their groceries when they need them.
As well, many stores are scheduling special hours so seniors and those most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 can shop.