Seniors who experience a sudden illness or accident are often left stunned by how quickly their lives have changed.
A car accident, a sudden slip in the snow, or a heart attack can leave a senior helpless in a home built for the able-bodied.
After hip or knee surgery, a broken bone, or the onset of debilitating disease, everyday tasks can become unmanageable.
For more than 50 years, the Canadian Red Cross has offered Health Equipment Loan Programs.
HELP is a community-based, non-profit society, which is volunteer-driven.
The program provides free, short-term loans of essential medical equipment that allows seniors to safely recover at home.
The B.C. Southern Interior Region of the Canadian Red Cross serves British Columbians from Williams Lake south to the United States border and from Lillooet and Princeton east to the Alberta border.
It is the same area the Interior Health Authority covers.
Within this region, some 34 communities are served by the health equipment loan program.
Seniors are referred by health care practitioners who prescribe the appropriate equipment to support their care at home.
The equipment is loaned out for a maximum of three months.
The required amount of time is prescribed by the health care practitioner.
Equipment is also available for palliative seniors.
The equipment offered is crutches, walkers, canes, wheelchairs, bathroom aids, commodes and other specialized health equipment.
Equipment can be
donated to HELP. All of the equipment is cleaned, disinfected and refurbished by skilled volunteers before it is put back into service.
When caring for seniors who have experienced a sudden change in their health any delay in getting support can feel like an eternity.
Seniors can only access HELP if there is a volunteer available at the site in each community.
HELP relies on volunteer and donor support to exist.
All of the community sites that provide HELP are managed by dedicated and trained volunteers.
They assist the seniors in getting the equipment they need to live a full and independent life.
Volunteers are the backbone of the Red Cross. They rely on the donated time and talents of volunteers to deliver hope and help to vulnerable seniors in times of need.
People can volunteer their time and skills to provide a much needed service to members of their community.
It is asked that the volunteer commit to a minimum of four hours per week for six months.
Our community is fortunate to have long-term volunteers who truly believe in the value that HELP provides to seniors. People can donate money to ensure that the Canadian Red Cross is able to continue to provide HELP and other services to communities.
All money donated stays in that community. Each year, with the financial support of the community, Red Cross programs in British Columbia’s Southern Interior touch the lives of more than 75,000 people.
For further information contact Kelowna Canadian Red Cross at 250-763-1864; www.redcross.ca/help.
Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for seniors in Kelowna.