Massive volunteer shortfall affecting many Mississauga seniors

By Graeme Frisque as posted on Mississauga.com on January 16, 2014

MISSISSAUGA ; Hundreds of Mississauga seniors aren’t getting the services and care they need due to a shortage of volunteers at the Peel branch of the Victorian Order of Nurses (VON Peel).

Due to the lack of volunteers, VON Peel is currently able to deliver much-needed services to only 120 of its more than 320 clients in Mississauga. The community-based support service, which operates under VON Canada, offers more than 75 home care, personal support and community regional services. Its goal is to make the lives of Canadian seniors dealing with physical and mental health issues a little easier.

The serious disruption of services, as officials describe it, is troubling. They say they need volunteers immediately.

“About 200 seniors are waiting to be visited. Some clients have no family and are alone. Others have family support, but the realities of everyday life can make it very difficult for (family members) to be there most of the time,” said VON’s volunteer visiting coordinator Kimberly Aliry. “We just don’t have enough people to meet the demand.”

While all services are being affected, according to Aliry, seniors’ programs are being hit hardest by the shortage.

“Our seniors visitation program requires volunteers for two hours a week,” said Aliry. “It involves anything from playing Scrabble, going for a walk with clients, or just simple companionship and conversation.”

VON Peel also offers several other programs for seniors. Congregate dining is a lunch program that aims to bring seniors together for a hot meal and give them a chance to socialize and make friends. Volunteers are needed for an hour, once a week, to help set up and transport clients who may have difficulty getting around.

The organization’s S.M.A.R.T. program (Seniors Maintaining Active Roles Together) is a volunteer-based exercise training program. Volunteers receive training and become certified to teach clients needs-specific exercise programs they can do on their own after 12 one-hour sessions.

Aliry says that beyond making a big difference in someone’s life, the certification and experience volunteers gain through S.M.A.R.T. are especially well suited for recent grads, or those looking for a future career in the ever-growing field of geriatric care.

Volunteers must be at least 18 years of age to apply.

Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to call 905-821-3254 or e-mail [email protected]