IT TAKES A VILLAGE...
Updated: Jul 31, 2020
The phrase “It takes a Village” applies not only to raising children; it is a concept we need to remember for our senior citizens, as well. It takes a village to keep seniors healthy and connected. The Center for Hearing & Speech (The Center) is taking the idea to heart with our "Senior Connections" Program. We are an important first step for identifying potential dangerous situations for seniors who have been self-isolating. Senior Connections was piloted last year in the City of St. Louis with funds from several sources, including the City of St. Louis Senior Citizen Services Fund. We have expanded the program into St. Louis County and with a grant from the Jefferson Foundation, we will soon provide similar services in Jefferson County as well.
Through Senior Connections, The Center is doing more than providing hearing health services and hearing aids; we are building relationships. The program includes transporting seniors without other means to their hearing health appointments at The Center locations. Our clients appreciate that we thoroughly clean and sanitize our agency vehicle in between appointments to mitigate Covid-19 exposure. There's also a mutual benefit of relationship building. Our staff have found this time is invaluable to learning more about the rich lives of our clients and sometimes, we learn of things that might need some care.
Mrs M, a woman who needed two hearing aids but couldn't afford the hefty $1,500 each price tag and lacked transportation contacted us and arranged an appointment. Our Director of Community Services, Salena, filled in that day and noted that Mrs. M was very frail and had difficulty maintaining her balance getting to and from the Center vehicle. A holocaust survivor and widdow, Mrs. M found herself alone during the isolation period because her helper had a stroke and was unable to bring her groceries. She had been alone for nearly 20 weeks due to the pandemic.
Our new client spoke very broken English with a thick polish accent. Fortunately, our extern bridged the communication gap and made Mrs. Mr feel comfortable throughout the entire visit. We found out much more about this very proud woman during the doctor's visit and the ride home, including that she was nearly out of staples and other basic items. With the approval of our Executive Director, we Salena made sure we provided those basic needs for her immediately and through our contacts at the St. Louis City Senior Fund found organizations that established a relationship with our new friend/clent to ensure her future and ongoing needs are met.
Salena says her job is worthwhile every day – seeing the joy when people hear again after so long. But, it’s the deeper connection that she gets to make that really stands out. In this case our new friend/client had tears in her eyes as she grabbed Salena’s hand and told her she was sent from heaven when she delivered the food the Center bought. Thankfully it’s not every day that we do this additional angel work but it is always good to see the results right in front of your eyes.