Jack starts every day with a phone call from a friendly Red Cross volunteer - he says they make him feel alive!
Jack has travelled around the globe and has family in Israel and England, but as a widower with no family close by he relies on the security he gets from his daily phone call from a friendly Red Cross volunteer.
Jack and his wife moved into a retirement unit when he was diagnosed with cancer and his wife with kidney disease. Jack says, when she became very sick he cared for her at home for two weeks until she was hospitalised and fell into a coma. 'I loved her and I went and visited her every day and read to her and talked. I knew she couldn't hear me, but somehow I felt that she knew I was there,' says Jack.
It was after his wife's death that he heard about the daily phone calls Red Cross provides to people who live alone and are at risk of an undetected accident or illness. 'You read in the paper where people are found three or four days later, which I would hate to happen to me,' says Jack. 'You need somebody, waking up on your own, to talk to, just to say good morning, how are you, it's a nice day.'
Around 4,800 Australians receive a phone call each day from Red Cross with volunteers making almost two million phone calls each year. In the past year Red Cross took action to help almost 800 people who were ill or injured and did not answer their daily call. For 37 clients, who were found to be deceased, Red Cross helped give them dignity in death by ensuring somebody knew.
One of the things Jack enjoys most about the calls is speaking to the Red Cross volunteers. 'They're caring and they're loving. They give of themselves, which is wonderful thing,' says Jack. 'From young to old, they ring me up faithfully, even on the weekends. It makes you feel alive! That you know that people care.'
Red Cross volunteers have now been calling people each day to check they are OK for four decades. Ian Coverdale, National Manager for Social Inclusion, says it's a simple service that has been operating in much the same way for its entire history. 'Something as simple as a daily phone call can give people who live alone confidence to remain independent and daily human contact that for some is the only conversation they'll have all day.'
Confidence to stay in his own home is important to Jack who says he doesn't want to go into an aged care home. 'I want to die in my house, and they help me keep it. The Telecross service allows me to live independently, knowing you have someone checking up on you,' says Jack. 'To know that you're going to get that phone call makes you survive.'
For more information visit the Telecross webpage.
If you would like to use the Telecross service, call 1300 885 698.
If you would like to become a Telecross volunteer, check for available volunteer opportunities in your state or territory.
Photo: Australian Red Cross/Bradley Kanaris