Thursday January 10, 2008
Following the tragic discovery of a Sydney resident months after his death, Red Cross is encouraging elderly or isolated people who live alone to register for the Telecross service.
Telecross is a free service offered by Red Cross, providing a daily contact call to thousands of people across Australia. Every morning, elderly and housebound clients are contacted by trained volunteers with a reassuring daily phone call to check that they are safe and well.
Australian Red Cross Chief Executive Officer, Robert Tickner, said it's very upsetting to hear an elderly person has died alone and no one knew about it for months.
'A simple phone call could have meant this tragedy was avoided, or at least discovered sooner,' said Mr Tickner.
'Every year, lives are saved by the Telecross service, but community relationships are important too. We all need to connect with our neighbours and make sure that we look out for each other, particularly our elderly neighbours.
'As our aging population continues to grow, more and more elderly people are living alone. Telecross helps clients maintain their independence, which improves their quality of life and reduces the necessity to move into residential care.'
Telecross client, Victor, aged 90, joined the service two and half years ago after the death of his wife. He strongly recommends other elderly people join the service.
'Every day a Red Cross volunteer calls me at 8am to check that I'm alive. It's a human voice that asks, "Hello, how are you today?" It's incredible what the sound of that voice does for me personally. It's very reassuring to know that I'll be getting a call,' Victor said.
Telecross is a free service that operates 365 days a year and relies on a strong volunteer network.
In 2006/07, more than 5000 Telecross volunteers around Australia made more than a million calls to thousands of elderly people.
Mr Tickner said we are all concerned about elderly people dying alone in their own homes. People can help by volunteering for Telecross.
People interested in joining the Telecross service or becoming a volunteer should contact their local Red Cross office or visit www.redcross.org.au.