Sunday, February 25, 2024

Tender Loving Care Program reaches out for seniors in the valley

Feel the love

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CHELAN VALLEY – The Tender Loving Care (TLC) program for Seniors is looking to expand their client and volunteer list. The friend-based volunteer system brings a wide of assortment of assistance to seniors in the valley, from companionships to assistance with household maintenance, shopping and transportation.
Currently, the program has twice the number of volunteers than clients, “focusing outward always helps the inner part of you,” expressed TLC Coordinator Claudia Swenson, “if you give, you get so much back by nourishing yourself.” Swenson has a Doctor Pharmacy Degree and has managed people for four years. She currently volunteers with Chelan Valley Hope and was hired on as Coordinator of TLC in the early fall of 2017.  
The compassion-based program flips the script on the traditional stereotype of impersonal care. Volunteers and clients are compatibly matched, and a care plan for the senior is created based on their individual needs, not taken from a predesigned list. “We’re working with people on a long-term, friend-based volunteer system,” Swenson explained on the program, “it’s a long-term friendship.” Every volunteer is training for approximately two hours by Swenson, one-on-one, “we have policies around everything from confidentiality, adult protection services, infection control … so they’re very well versed in setting boundaries and working with people.” The current group of volunteers through TLC are abundantly diverse, enabling them to fit the many different needs of clients.
The program is for seniors who need that companionship that has been lost, or even just a friendly ear to listen or help with shopping. The program’s benefits don’t stop there though, it also offers volunteer help not solely for the benefit of the seniors, but for the caregivers, spouse or family members who are caring for their aging loved one as well. “That’s where we’re really shining is in respite,” expressed Swenson, “for that 24-seven caregiver, if we don’t take care of them they’re not going to be there to take care of that mom or dad or spouse.” The volunteers can come in and care for the senior for two to four hours while the regular caregiver or family member takes a break. Swenson explained that nearly 75 percent of seniors wish to be able to stay in their own homes, but financially it is extremely difficult to be able to afford. The TLC program helps this group to be able to stay in the environments they are most comfortable in.
TLC has a list of resources “as broad as the needs of people,” said Swenson. “We try to figure out what people need, and they really need to not be alone,” she said, “we are not limited in the things we can do.” Some of the resources available to clients include in-home hairstyling and cuts, in-home exercise visits and even dog visits. Who couldn’t benefit from some time with man’s best friend?
So, what’s the process for including yourself or your loved one in the TLC program for seniors? With permission from the senior, Coordinator Swenson can come and do an in-home assessment. It can’t be a ‘cold call’, so it needs to be the senior themselves or if someone is calling on behalf of the senior, they have permission from the senior for the Coordinator from the TLC program to come in and talk with them about how the program may benefit them, “it’s just a conversation,” expressed Swenson. “I’ll go into the home for about an hour and a half and basically assess everything about them, their personality, their needs, who their family or support system is, their healthcare provider,” she explained, “what medications are they taking, what are their risk for falls? This is all taken upfront so we really have a good picture of who they are and what their needs are.” Once the assessment is completed, the TLC crew can compile a care plan specialized for the needs of the individual and assign a matched volunteer. The visits of the volunteer can range from a couple days a week to once a month, it just really depends on the needs of that client, said Swenson.
For more information on the TLC Program for Seniors, to volunteer or to join as a client, contact Coordinator Claudia Swenson at (360) 561-6090.

TLC, seniors, Chelan, Manson, programs

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