Attending medical appointments alone can be challenging for older adults. Finding transportation, locating the correct office, navigating safely, asking questions, remembering medication changes, or understanding instructions for follow-up care can be areas of concern or fear.
Jewish Family Services of Washtenaw County (JFS) assists older adults facing these challenges with their Partners in Care Concierge™ program (PiCC). It’s not always possible for family members to accompany a loved one; for those who no longer drive, affordable transportation that provides door-through-door assistance is difficult to find.
A PiCC Partner is a trained volunteer who puts the client at ease with a visit before the appointment, then accompanies the individual to their appointment with the JFS transportation service. Partners support patients, help schedule new appointments, record what transpired during the visit, and facilitate clients’ safe return home. PiCC Partners accompany clients to appointments with primary care physicians, ophthalmologists, opticians, hearing aid centers, physical therapy appointments, and/or procedures (e.g. cataract removal, pacemaker checks, etc.).
The PiCC program was recognized for its innovative approach to medical accompaniment for older adults when it won the 2011 Goodman Award from the Association of Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies.
Patty Benson, one of the first Partners, says, “I was asked to volunteer and was carefully matched to (the late) Morris Bornstein, a retired professor of economics, because he needed someone who paid great attention to detail.” We met before his first appointment to discuss his concerns, and it was clear after the visit that Morris was pleased that I had been there to provide support for him. I asked him if he wanted me to become his long term match, and that was it. We were partners for the three years he was in the program.”
Over the years, Morris and Patty developed a special relationship. Patty saw Morris almost weekly, as he had a number of chronic medical conditions he was receiving treatment for. Patty got to know Morris’ physicians quite well. The medical personnel always welcomed her as a patient advocate and seemed pleased when she helped facilitate interactions. “I felt like I had an important role to play and that my assistance was valuable,” Patty stated.
If you are interested in having a Partner volunteer to assist with medical appointments for yourself or a family member, please contact JFS for more information. The agency is always in need of volunteers. The ideal volunteer is an individual who has been a caregiver in the past, has medical, social work or nursing experience, but not required. Training for this role is provided by the agency.
For more information, please contact Diane Fenske, Geriatric Services Coordinator, at 734-769-0209, or email email@example.com.