Personalized Volunteer Escort Initiative Implemented in Coaticook

Action research by Dr. Mélanie Levasseur is at the centre of the Communauté bienveillante pour les aînés initiative (benevolent community outreach for seniors).

For more than three years, Researcher Mélanie Levasseur, in cooperation with the Centre d’action bénévole de la MRC de Coaticook, led an investigation to identify social participation needs for seniors and also the factors which facilitate social participation. As part of the action research, the team met more than 160 locals to gain a better understanding on how to identify and foster the integration of seniors in the community who are isolated or vulnerable.

A community in action

Within the framework of the action research, the CAB de la MRC de Coaticook launched the Communauté bienveillante pour les aînés (benevolent community outreach for seniors) initiative which brings together a number of actions to identify and support seniors living in isolation.

"Personalized escort services help to increase mobility, social participation, and the frequency of recreational activities for seniors in loss of autonomy. Such accompaniment benefits both the seniors in loss of autonomy and the volunteers who accompany them." explains Dr. Mélanie Levasseur, researcher, Research Centre on Aging of the CIUSSS de l’Estrie-CHUS.

Scouts and escorts

At the heart of this initiative is the implementation of a network of 'scouts' composed of citizens who are in regular contact with the elderly client group and trained to identify and refer seniors who are vulnerable or living in isolation.

The CAB de la MRC Coaticook has concurrently developed the personalized volunteer escort service for seniors, a method perfected and studied by Researcher Mélanie Levasseur.

The volunteer escorts are trained to help the senior to:

  • identify his interests;
  • organize activities which encourage his social participation.

The volunteer escorts receive training from the CAB in collaboration with a social worker from the CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS.

Essential collaborations

From its onset, the Communauté bienveillante pour les aînés initiative has received support from the CIUSSS de l’Estrie – CHUS thanks first to the involvement of a community organizer and then a social worker in launching the project, then supporting the training of the volunteers, and finally anchoring the service offer to the health care network.

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