Volunteers slow to return from COVID-19 hiatus, says PEI organization | Pro IQRA News

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COVID-19 restrictions may have been lifted in most places across the Island, but community organizations that rely on volunteers say the pandemic is still impacting the way people spend their time.

Hayley VanIderstine, activities coordinator at The Mount Continuing Care Community in Charlottetown, said the number of volunteers on their roster has fallen since the start of the pandemic.

“I think a lot of people are now hesitant to volunteer simply because, A, they don’t want to get sick themselves; going into any public space is a risk right now. And B, they don’t want to be the one to bring anything into the house and endanger our inhabitants.”

Harry Kielly said he and other residents were looking forward to activities such as chair gymnastics run by volunteers.

“I need that activity,” he said. “I have Parkinson’s. I have to keep moving and that definitely helps.”

Whenever VanIderstine holds an event, he says, fewer residents can attend than usual because there aren’t enough volunteers.

“Bringing residents to and from activities or helping out with walks or even just visiting people who don’t get out of the room very often – those gaps are really starting to become more noticeable.”

Looking for 20 volunteers

The Canadian Red Cross at PEI is also looking for about 20 volunteers to add to its ranks.

Provincial manager Corrine Hendricken-Eldershaw said the greatest need was in the charity’s Equipment Loan Program (ELP) and teams trained to respond in emergencies.

“We’ve had great success with the Friendly Calling program because it’s new; it’s a remote experience that allows people to be socially involved in a community to prevent social isolation,” he said.

Gunung residents admitted that they appreciated the volunteers who helped the activity. (Laura Meader/CBC)

“However, with the ELP program and the emergency management program in place, we can always use more volunteers, of course, as we continue to grow.”

Emergency management volunteers work with people who have lost their homes to fires, floods or other disasters.

ELP volunteers help aging seniors at home or people recovering at home after surgery, says Hendricken-Eldershaw – removing stress from the hospital system by reducing length of hospital stay. “Equipment loan volunteers make sure you have the equipment you need and have it delivered to your home.”

Public nursing homes face a similar shortage, with about half their usual number of volunteers, according to Health PEI

“We’re just trying to build that reserve, so we can offer more programs, we can do more one at a time,” said Cheryl Young, recreation coordinator at Prince Edward Home.


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