Ypsilanti Meals on Wheels has always been about more than a daily food delivery. Our clients rely on their daily visit for a bit of conversation and a smiling face. And we at YMOW rely on those face-to-face interactions as reassurance of the client’s well-being.
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, these face-to-face encounters are now done from a distance. Smiles are exchanged from behind a mask. And deliveries are taking place just three times a week.
Only a Ring Away
To make up for the lost contact with clients, YMOW has launched its “Only a Ring Away” program. This program enlists a group of more than 25 staff, board members and volunteers to ensure every YMOW client receives a well-being call and a friendly chat every week.
“These calls allow us to assess how our clients are doing, both physically and emotionally, during this trying time,” said YMOW Executive Director Alison Foreman.
Clients are guided through a list of questions designed to gauge their health and their needs. Along with questions about their physical health, including a screening for signs of COVID-19, clients are asked how they’re spending their time, whether they have enough food and medication, and what non-food essentials they might need from the YMOW Personal Care Pantry. These calls also serve as a friendly visit and a distraction from the news of the day.
Survey results are analyzed by YMOW clinical staff.
After the first week of the program, about 10 percent of clients were deemed in need of more frequent calls, which the Only a Ring Away program will provide.
After completing an online training, callers made their first calls to clients the first week of April.
Calls lift spirits, potentially save lives
Volunteer Lois Plantefaber said it didn’t take long for the program to prove its worth. During one of her first calls, a YMOW client reported she had been feeling unwell. Lois urged the woman to call her doctor and informed her emergency contact of the situation.
“It’s really worthwhile,” Lois said.
Lois said she’s grateful for the opportunity to make sheltering in place a little easier for a few of her neighbors. And it brightens her day to hear those on her call list praise the efforts of YMOW and its volunteers. The Only a Ring Away calls, she said, are good for the people on both sides of the phone.