Enhanced Mental Health For Seniors In Public Housing

exterior view of community centre
BreithauptCommunityCentre-Kitchener photo by Illustratedjc is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Telephone and Internet are replacing community centres like this one, which were places for seniors to connect pre-COVID.

Patrick Raue is using his research to help seniors to stay connected. It is proving helpful to tenants living in public housing.

At any time, it’s important to keep connections with friends and family members for the sake of our mental health, especially as we get older. The COVID-19 pandemic added a new layer of complexity to following that advice.

Raue works at the University of Washington, in Seattle, at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine. His research is about depression and stress management. His initiative focusses on agencies who are in contact with older people who live in public housing projects.

The agencies had been running social programs, which ended abruptly when COVID arrived. The agencies changed their tactics, switching to regular phone chats to check in with the people who had been coming to the programs.

Raue’s research helped the agencies to take the chats up a notch, by making sure that the conversations cover key practical and mental health topics. From the conversation, callers are better able to assess whether follow up is needed and to give advice and support to help the tenants.

Raue’s work will be of interest to agencies that support seniors and other people who are socially isolated. Funders looking to enhance COVID responses should also take note of this model.

Callers receive training to build the check list and assessment tool into their chats. The training has extended Raue’s work quickly among agencies that support seniors. Read more at UW Medicine: Stay Connected program helps isolated seniors

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