Phones are an easy-to-use way for seniors to connect during the pandemic, said Smitty Miller, coordinator of the new Seniors Centre Without Walls (SCWW) phone outreach. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Phones are an easy-to-use way for seniors to connect during the pandemic, said Smitty Miller, coordinator of the new Seniors Centre Without Walls (SCWW) phone outreach. (Special to Langley Advance Times)

Connecting by telephone; new Langley program combats isolation for seniors

‘It could not be simpler’ to use, coordinator says

A free telephone-based interactive program for Langley seniors aims to fight social isolation with weekly group chats for people 55 or older.

Seniors Centre Without Walls (SCWW) is designed to be easy to use, coordinator Smitty Miller, a former broadcaster, explained.

“I think the problem sometimes with seniors is we want to bring them up to speed, to teach them technology,” Miller told the Langley Advance Times.

Instead, she said, SCWW will “slow down” by deploying a device that everyone is familiar with.

On the day of an event, Miller said, participants will get a call.

“All they have to do is pick up the phone and press 1,” Miller described.

“It could not be simpler.”

Privacy is protected, with participants using just their first names.

“It’s certainly great for isolation, it’s certainly great for anonymity,” Miller remarked.

READ ALSO: COVID shone harsh spotlight on Langley seniors health and wellness issues

Launched by Langley Seniors in Action (LSA), a senior-led organization of volunteers that includes seniors, and community organizations that support seniors, the telephone program aims to help older adults dealing with isolation, loneliness and boredom as they cope with restrictions imposed by the pandemic.

Modelled on a similar, successful Surrey program, “Seniors Come Share Society,” the Langley initiative is set to begin the first week of July.

Initially, SCWW will hold two sessions a week, on Tuesdays, and Fridays, typically running between 30 and 40 minutes, with themes such as “play day” with word games, “your Canadian story” about personal histories, and “you be the judge” where participants can rule on court cases.

All necessary program materials will be mailed or emailed to people once they have registered.

READ ALSO: Langley RCMP mark Seniors Week with visit and note

Paul Crump, President of Langley Seniors in Action, said funding for the program, along with their monthly community hub meetings and educational, webinars comes from the New Horizons for Seniors program.

“Without this grant, we would not be able to offer these programs to seniors in our community,” Crump said.

Tamara Jansen, MP for Cloverdale-Langley City, said SCWW “is exactly the type of program and community organization that the government of Canada’s New Horizons for Seniors Program was designed to support.”

“The pandemic has exacerbated the isolation and loneliness that many seniors face on a day-to-day basis,” Jansen added.

“Langley Seniors in Action recognized a need and came up with a solution. I’m sure this program will continue long past the pandemic.”

For more information about SCWW or to register, phone 778-251-1003, or email coordinator.langleyscww@gmail.com.


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