Older Adults Listening to Older Adults
Resource type: Grantee Story
The Senior Help Line was established in 1998 to provide a listening service for older people who are lonely, neglected or isolated. The service was born from a consultative process undertaken by the North Eastern Health Board in 1997.
Older people interviewed expressed their desire to be able to access help and advice from “non-official” sources. The lines are operated on a voluntary basis by older people. The service has grown from one centre and 35 volunteers in 1998 to nine centres and over 300 volunteers in 2005, with three additional centres planned by the end of 2006.
This service was introduced after careful consideration of the needs of older people through dialogue and discussion with older people themselves. The service began as a pilot project, thereby allowing valuable insights to be absorbed at an early stage.
In 2004 an evaluation of the Senior Help Line was carried out by Professor Eamon O’Shea of National University of Ireland, Galway. He found that the Help Line has made a major contribution to the health and well being of older people in this country at relatively low cost. He felt the service demonstrated the positive effects of volunteering on older people and the importance of peer-to-peer communication for older people. He concluded that the Help Line is a model project in terms of accountability and best practice and a good example of what can be achieved through vision and social leadership of a small number of people.
Purpose and Impact of the Grant
The purpose of this grant is to support The Senior Help Line to engage a consultant to assist them with a strategic planning process, which is expected to run over a three-month period. The final output of this process will be to develop and produce a business plan going forward.