Help is on the Way!
Blog Author: Lindsey Eliason, Family Support Manager, Helpline Center
The phrase “Help! I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” is heard at 911 dispatch centers across the nation and is usually followed by a reassuring “Help is on the way.” Through a partnership between the Helpline Center and Sioux Falls Fire Rescue (SFFR), help truly is on the way in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
Lift assists were increasing in our growing city thus increasing the strain on SFFR in responding to other serious incidents such as fires, car accidents, or emergent medical situations. In addition to increased calls for lifts assists, the firefighters also were recognizing additional social needs and/or environmental concerns that they were not equipped to handle. With the challenge of wanting to help, but also out of the scope of SFFR, a partnership was developed with a referral to the Helpline Center.
Today, with approval from the individual who had fallen and/or the caregiver, the Fire Captain sends a referral to the Helpline Center detailing social needs or other supportive needs identified during their visit. In the past year alone with the partnership, lift assists have gone down by roughly 8% allowing the SFFR to be present for matters that are more urgent. The Helpline Center has connected 209 unique individuals who have fallen to services that will improve their wellbeing since program conception, and another estimated 75 caregivers.
The partnership starts with a referral sent to the Helpline Center’s Fall Prevention Community Health Worker (CHW). Through both telephone and in-person in-home consultations, the CHW works to support and connect the individual and their caregiver with local community resources. The CHW provides education, provision of coordination of care services, and resources including connections to a Fall Prevention or Balance Class, an In-home Assessment, Long Term services and Supports options, and Home Modification recommendations and provider options to complete home repairs to make it safer, and decrease the risk of falling again.
Once the initial assessment and connection to the resources is completed, the CHW then connects the individual and their caregiver to Helpline Center supportive telephone reassurance programs to assist with follow up and to ensure follow through with other needed services
Specifically for caregivers, the Helpline Center’s Caregiver Support Specialist works with the Caregiver to determine their emotional and mental state, their needs, their current self-care rituals, what areas have room for growth, and then staff work with the Caregiver to make improvements in those needed areas by setting goals, providing resources and support, and checking in with them and their overall wellbeing. Being a caregiver to a loved can be an isolating journey. Caregiver Support adds an extra layer of support by telling the caregivers that, “It is okay to feel what you’re feeling; what you are going through is not easy; let’s create a plan to make sure you are taking care of you. I will walk with you through this journey.”
The partnership between SFFR and the Helpline Center has grown beyond what we initially thought could happen. Firefighters feel supported as they know the individuals and caregivers will be connected to resources beyond what they can provide during the lift assist. Individuals and caregivers are connected to programs they may not have known existed or needed assistance in reducing the barriers for access. The team at the Helpline Center works to bridge those gaps between needs and services. The impact of this partnership is astonishing, and we are excited to continue to make lives better by giving support, offering hope and creating connections all day, every day.
Help is on the way! November is National Family Caregiver’s Month; a time devoted to honoring Americans who care for their aging or disabled loved ones, and one phone call to 211 can make a difference for the better. For more information on this unique partnership, or the Caregiver Support Program at the Helpline Center contact Lindsey Eliason, Family Support Manager, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and check out the Helpline Center website HERE!