The Social Bridging Project was launched in Western Carolina in 2020 to alleviate social isolation and loneliness in older adults. Partners in the project include the NC Center for Health and Wellness, the University of North Carolina, Healthy Aging NC, Dogwood Health Trust, NC Division of Aging Services, and The Center for Healthy Aging at MAHEC. A wide range of older adults are served through The Social Bridging Project depending on the extent of the difficulties they are facing, such as chronic illness, loneliness, isolation, economic difficulty, digital inequity, or psychological, mental, or emotional conditions
The Social Bridging Project provides social support to isolated older adults through wellness check-in phone calls once or twice a week from trained students or community volunteers. Volunteers not only provide a friendly phone call but also act as care navigators when needed and provide resources and connections to services like food, transportation, housing, medical services, etc. Additionally, volunteers assist older adults with technology and other interests, such as accessing Zoom, Facebook, or other social media platforms and telehealth, help with computers or cell phones, start a book club, or any other needs that arise. For older adults that have multiple and pressing needs, Jeff Jones, Project Manager, or another staff member will work with the older adult and help them with these hurdles.
Referrals for The Social Bridging Projects come from physicians, aging services providers, caregivers, friends, family, and self-referrals. To make a referral, please call 828-412-0431 or click on https://healthyagingnc.com/social-bridging-project/. Once a referral is made, Jeff Jones and other staff perform a brief assessment and match the older adult with a trained volunteer.
The Social Bridging Projects enhance the well-being of older adults and long-term relationships develop between the older adults and volunteers which benefit both parties. The Social Bridging Project is seeking volunteers, particularly in the areas west of Buncombe County. If you would like to volunteer for The Social Bridging Project, please contact Jeff Jones at email@example.com or Thom Smythe at firstname.lastname@example.org.