FORT LAUDERDALE – The state of Florida has licensed Heart2Heart Outreach of South Florida – a nonprofit that connects volunteers to seniors experiencing isolation and loneliness – to provide Homemaker and Companion Services in Broward County as of Jan. 5.
The Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) designation will allow Heart2Heart volunteers who are specially trained and vetted to assist aging or disabled adults in need of assistance, giving regular caregivers time for their own self-care. In addition, Heart2Heart recently received a $30,000 grant specifically to support the new service.
“Heart2Heart recognized a need for more respite care options as the population of our senior saints in South Florida grows,” said Heart2Heart Executive Director Juan Gallo. “These caregivers are usually family members or close friends with a full-time responsibility of caring for their loved one. Our volunteers will ease the heavy burden they carry and help prevent caregiver burnout.”
Relief C.A.R.E., the new service Heart2Heart will provide under the license, is an aspect of its Home-Based Community Visits. Since 2020, Heart2Heart volunteers have been visiting and providing companionship to seniors living in their own homes – seniors who reported feeling isolated during the pandemic either because they live alone or spend much of their day alone while family members are at work.
As a licensed provider of Homemaker and Companion Services, Heart2Heart volunteers now will be able to help seniors who are less independent than those they currently visit. Relief Companions will receive monthly training, individual coaching, and support, and a small stipend to offset the costs of volunteering. In addition, Relief Companions will visit clients one or more times weekly and provide two to five hours of respite care to support caregivers.
“We’re excited to take on this new responsibility,” said Gallo. “We know that the best way to help lonely seniors is to connect them with a caring volunteer who offers hope, love, and restore purpose to their lives.”
Heart2Heart will match families in need of respite care with a volunteer via its Person-Centered Approach, taking into account cultural and language factors. Person-Centered Training teaches volunteers to listen to their senior clients and customize a visit based on their unique interests. This method allows Relief Companions to develop and maintain meaningful, sustained relationships with the seniors while providing respite services.
Relief Companions will be able to help the senior residents around the house with tasks like cleaning, preparing meals, laundry and shopping. Along with providing them companionship, they will be able to take the seniors to doctor’s appointments and errands and offer cosmetic assistance with things like hair, makeup, and filing nails.
Relief Companions won’t provide medical services but are allowed to remind senior residents to take their medicine and can help stabilize them if they have trouble walking. They will be trained to report any concerns or unusual incidents.
As it launches Relief C.A.R.E., Heart2Heart is seeking more qualified volunteers to serve as Relief Companions. The process to become a volunteer begins on its online volunteer portal at portal.heart2heartoutreach.org/register.
About Heart2Heart Outreach of South Florida
Since 2010, Heart2Heart has matched hundreds of volunteers to senior residents in over 50 care centers in South Florida. These committed passionate volunteers have made an incredible difference in the lives of thousands of senior citizens who would otherwise have gotten little or no visits from family and friends. In 2018, Heart2Heart launched its innovative C.A.R.E. strategy (Connect, Advocate, Respond and Engage) to respond to a growing need within the aging community.
Currently, Heart2Heart volunteers reach the aging community through in-person visitations, care package and grocery deliveries, phone calls and video chats via donated tablets. For more information, visit www.heart2heartoutreach.org.