Volunteer ‘befrienders’ boost support for shielded and vulnerable residents

DORSET Council and key partners in the community response to COVID-19 are working to make sure ‘shielding’ and vulnerable residents can get help to continue to live independently in their homes.   

The council has asked volunteer ‘befrienders’ who are supporting those most at risk from coronavirus to help spot the signs that a person may have become more frail or prone to falls because of their reduced ability to exercise and keep active while staying at home.

The volunteers, working on behalf of Age UK North, South & West Dorset, are being asked to listen out for key words and phrases which describe the feelings of the person they help, such as frail, weaker, less balanced and likely to fall, as these indicate the person will benefit from help to get more active.

Volunteers will also ask the person they befriend:

  • Has there been any change to your ability to get about as usual since you have been self-isolating?
  • Has there been any change to your ability to complete your usual activities, such as leisure activities or housework?

If the answer is yes to any of these questions, the befriender can ask the vulnerable person if they consent to being referred to the re-enablement services on offer from the council’s care provider Tricuro.

There is no charge for this service and a wide variety of support is on offer from information and guidance, to practical support such as equipment to improve independence and increase confidence at home.

Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Health said:  “The befrienders who have volunteered to help residents through COVID-19 are brilliant and I can’t thank them enough for all they are doing.

“We are keen to support them, and the people they are helping, to the very best of our abilities. By referring people to our reablement services, the befrienders are helping Dorset’s vulnerable residents keep as active as possible and making it more likely they can continue to live independently in their own homes.”

Dave Thorp, CEO of Age UK North, South & West Dorset (NSWD) said: “Age UK NSWD are pleased to be able to offer this service to those people our staff and volunteers we are already making a friendly call to many people on a regular basis.

“We have seen the amount of isolated and vulnerable older people rise due to lockdown and shielding. We are currently in contact with hundreds of people every week.

“It is the aim of Age UK NSWD to work in partnership with other agencies to ensure older people can continue to live independently and safely for as long as they are able and want to do so.”

Volunteers are still needed

You can still join the council’s army of volunteers who are supporting vulnerable residents at this time. If you have an up-to-date DBS check and would like to offer your support, you can register online.

Do you need help?

If you don’t have family, friends or a support network that can help you get the things you need at this time, you can call 01305 221000, 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week to get help and advice. Alternatively, you can email communityresponse@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

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