OSWEGO, NY – Living alone can sometimes be worrisome. There is always the concern that if something happens, how will anyone know, who will be there to help?
For the residents of St. Luke Apartments, they can rest easier knowing that the Red Cross’ I’m OK Program will be addressing those concerns.
The program was introduced in Oswego County when Fulton Mill Apartments implemented it in January.
Now, just two months later, the program has found a new home at St. Luke Apartments.
“After we brought the I’m OK Program to Fulton Mill Apartments and saw how well it was received and how successful it has been, we wanted to see other senior living facilities adopt the program as well,” said Director of Emergency Services at Catholic Charities of Oswego County, Helen Hoefer. “When we visited St. Luke Apartments to assist residents with food stamp applications we mentioned the I’m OK Program to property manager Melanne Keim who was interested in learning more about the program.”
After hearing about the simplicity of the program and how the residents of Fulton Mill Apartments accepted it, Keim decided to introduce the program to the residents at St. Luke Apartments.
“Resident safety and health is of course our main concern. Our residents are a very tight knit community. The residents have a tendency to look out for each other and I feel the I’m OK Program is just another step that will enhance those feelings,” explained Keim.
To make the Red Cross’ I’m OK Program a reality at St. Luke Apartments, Catholic Charities of Oswego County’s Emergency Services program once again partnered with the American Red Cross of Central New York, and Fidelis Health Care.
“Thanks to our partnership with Fidelis Health Care we were able to procure the necessary funding for the I’m OK program. St. Luke Apartments is an excellent facility, we appreciate their contribution to our community and the willingness of Fidelis Health Care to help support the I’m OK program,” said Hoefer.
With the funding in place, it was time to introduce the program to the residents at St. Luke Apartments.
Red Cross chapter services associate Susan Pope explained that the program operates by using volunteers who look out for the well-being of their fellow residents.
“Each resident participating will be provided an I’m OK door hangar. Each day at the appointed time they will hang it outside their apartment to indicate that they are ‘OK.’ Our volunteers, who are also residents, will slide the door hanger back under the door. The program assures that those residents who sign up to participate are monitored and they should feel an extra level of comfort. They know that if for some reason they cannot get the hanger out there, it won’t be long before someone is there to find out why and that, if needed, help and assistance will be coming soon,” she said.
Keim sees the program as a welcome addition that will benefit the residents.
“The I’m OK Program will benefit the residents in several ways. First and foremost it will offer them a little piece of mind, if their door tag is not out in the morning due to falls or illness, someone will be checking on them right away. In the past there have been incidents where a resident has fallen and not been able to get to a phone or the emergency pull cords that are standard in the apartments. The longer they lay there the more precarious their situation may become. The I’m OK Program will be very helpful in that aspect. The program will also help bring the residents even closer together as neighbors and friends,” said Keim.
In addition to the benefits it provides the residents, Keim added that the program will be of benefit to the staff and the building as well as it offers additional safety and independence to aging residents.
“The future of elderly housing is to ‘age in place’ and along with outside agencies and this program, I feel that this trend will successfully continue. The I’m OK Program will also help with vacancies to a point, which overall benefits the staff, the property and the residents as a whole. In addition, as staff of the property, we become accustomed to our residents’ normal comings and goings, they will stop in to say hello, meet with others in the lobby to chat for a few minutes, etc. We already become concerned if that routine is interrupted and we don’t see someone for a day or two, so in the end I think that the I’m OK Program will ease our minds as well,” explained Keim.
Residents who volunteer to distribute the I’m OK door hangers and check on their fellow residents will receive thorough training from both the staff at St. Luke Apartments and the American Red Cross.
“All Red Cross volunteers are given basic training in the mission of the American Red Cross and what we do. For I’m OK volunteers, each individual site will have specific procedures for them to follow. Each site will determine their own “what if” procedures and then train their volunteers to follow them. Overall, as Red Cross volunteers they will be invited and encouraged to attend Red Cross events and become as involved as they can in the mission of the Red Cross. Being an I’m OK volunteer gives them an opportunity to volunteer their time without leaving their building. Many seniors want to volunteer and have much to offer; however for one reason or another they are unable to get out. The I’m OK program encourages the residents to worth together to assure the comfort and safety of each other,” said Pope.
“I’m very excited about beginning the I’m OK Program,” added Keim. “I have had several residents already inquire about it and several have already signed up. Once the residents are familiar with the program I’m sure they will be as excited as I am.”
Keim added the program at St. Luke Apartments is scheduled to begin in mid-April.
For more information, call Hoefer at 315-598-3980.