B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie and Health Minister Adrian Dix. (B.C. government)

B.C. Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie and Health Minister Adrian Dix. (B.C. government)

B.C. 211 hotline expands to link COVID-19 homebound seniors, volunteers

Thousands of volunteer offers to be matched up to need

B.C. MLA offices and Seniors Advocate Isobel Mackenzie have received thousands of calls offering to help seniors who are staying home for the COVID-19 pandemic, and have added resources to the 2-1-1 phone line and BC211 website to match them with the need.

People want to pick up groceries or deliver medications and hot meals to seniors, and the service has added significant call centre staff to make that happen, Mackenzie said March 26. The new coronavirus is particularly a risk for elderly people with underlying health issues, so staying at home is most important to them.

“My message to seniors is simple,” Mackenzie said. “Don’t be afraid, but please stay home. Please, let us pick up your groceries. Please, let us pick up your medications. Please, let us deliver meals.”

Mackenzie said the 2-1-1 call centre has added capacity equivalent to handling 100,000 calls a year, and urged people to use the www.bc211.ca website if possible. Volunteers should give their area and availablity, and seniors should provide their location and needs.

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Health Minister Adrian Dix said the ministry is taking steps to protect seniors in hospitals, residential care and assisted living facilities, but most B.C. seniors aren’t in institutional care.

“These are challenging times for seniors living at home,” Dix said. “Throughout B.C. we have a network of organizations and volunteers in communities who support seniors living at home, and those networks as well have been stretched in recent times.”

Dix noted that the province dedicated $50 million last week to the United Way, which works with 68 B.C. organizations to provide community services. He said he is contacted daily by people who want to help, “and that is an inspiring thing in difficult times.”


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