A new service organization in Sun City Hilton Head hopes to help the retirement community's homebound residents by connecting them with their neighbors.
Staying Connected opened its resource center Monday in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Pinckney Hall. The nonprofit plans to conduct regular resident check-ins, provide transportation to doctors' appointments and other services by February, according to board president Holly Field.
Communications director Ellie Dixon said there was no way to know how many of Sun City's 14,000-plus residents are homebound. However, the program has generated talk and interest around the retirement community, she said.
All Sun City residents are eligible for the organization. Residents can register at the resource center or on Staying Connected's website, Field said.
Field said planning for the organization began about two years ago, after she and others realized homebound or recuperating residents -- especially those who live alone -- needed help. Staying Connected is based on the “village concept,” which originated in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood and relies on neighbors helping neighbors, Field said.
“Things happen,” Field said. “You might need a hip replacement or some procedure. It's hard to rely on friends all the time. This is gathering everyone together to help.”
The service organization appears to be unique in Sun City. Dixon said a Meals on Wheels-type service once operated there, but was limited to just delivering food.
The resource hub is the first phase of the organization's plan and will offer information on a range of services, including health care, Dixon said.
In February, the organization will begin making home visits, Field said. The organization already has 200 volunteers, but they need to be trained before the services can be offered, she said.
Volunteers will be trained by other Sun City residents with backgrounds in social work, Dixon said.
Visits could be as simple as a check-in or include basic maintenance, like changing a light bulb. The organization also plans to make daily phone calls to homebound residents, Field said.
Volunteers will drive homebound residents to doctors’ appointments or to get groceries. In many cases, homebound or debilitated residents don't get to the doctor when they should because they’re unable to find transportation, board vice president Hugh Armstrong said.
The organization will also offer respite care, giving a break to residents who are full-time caregivers for spouses with Alzheimer's and other debilitating conditions, board member Bob Hooper said.
“It's needed here,” Hooper said. “People in Sun City think it's a wonderful idea.”