Toronto Public Library Staff Are Calling Seniors During Pandemic – GNSOTD Thur, Jan. 7th 2021

When it comes to caring for the elderly during a Global Pandemic, the idea is to keep them as safe as possible. Unfortunately, this also leaves them rather isolated and lonely which can negatively impact their emotional and physical wellbeing in another way. This is why we have spoken before about some efforts made to address this loneliness.

The Toronto Public Library have found their own way to help. And that was by just using the phone. Staff at the Toronto Public Library have set their sights on calling more than 20,000 senior library users as part of a wellness check to see how they’re doing during the pandemic.

Since mid-July, about 20 library staff have called more than 10,000 clients, most of them between the ages of 80 and 100 years old, who may be isolated. Now staff are starting to make calls to an additional 13,000 library cardholders between 70 and 79 years of age.

About 1,000 of the senior library users who first received the 10-minute phone calls are registered for a delivery service for those who have mobility issues due to age, illness, or disability. These are the users the library thought might be isolated and vulnerable. The 10-minute phone calls are an opportunity to not just check in, but to help these seniors to navigate the library resources that have moved online during the pandemic.

They admit their program is not unique, they were inspired by similar programs in Windsor, Markham, and Hamilton.

“People are really surprised when we call them, that it’s not a call that we’re selling anything or asking anything of them,” said Emoke Gall, a librarian at the North York Central Library, who started making calls twice a week this past summer. “We’re literally just checking in to see how they’re doing.”

Sara Minor whose mother had been using curbside pickup until the library completely closed, said the phone call her mother received from the library this month “boosted her spirits.”

“That was really important to her,” Minor said. “The library has been her godsend.”

Another user had lived overseas for most of their life before moving back home to Toronto and when they did, they realized that the library system in Toronto was neighbourhood based, and easily accessible.

“It was just nice to hear that in their opinion … this is the best library system in the world because there’s so many available options,” added Gall. “It’s been a very feel-good, friendly, nice initiative for us to have at this time.” It is also your Good News Story of the Day which you can find here.

The Library has found their way of helping seniors, and it is just a 10-minute phone call. Something we all could find time for.

Story and Image from Toronto Star.

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