Senior FAQ

Following are some scheduling questions that we sometimes receive about our virtual visits:

How long does it take to get the call scheduled?

When a visit is initially requested, we set up a time to do a quick test of the technology. For instances where a caregiver is helping a senior, this gives them an opportunity to use our technology without the senior anxiously awaiting for their visit to start.

Once we’ve completed the practice call, we will reach out to our volunteers to find who is available when the senior is available. Of course, the more flexibility the senior has in their schedule, the faster we can find volunteers for it.  We aim to schedule visits within two weeks of the completion of the technology test.

Can we work out the schedule for the visits each week?

Our goal is to create an environment where students and seniors can build relationships through weekly visits. That requires visits at a consistent day and time each week, so that we can find students that will always be available to meet. We support video visits 7 days per week, 11 hours per day. This allows for flexibility, so that the visits can be scheduled at a time that works for the seniors and their caregivers. We cannot change it each week, because the students will not be available.

Can visits be held less frequently than weekly?

We schedule the calls for every week, because that is the best way to ensure that they happen. If the calls were to be scheduled every other week or less frequently, it would lead to calls being missed by both the senior and the volunteers, because there would be confusion about whether or not it was the proper week for the call to occur. Further, our volunteers want to help. It is very hard to address social isolation with visits that are less frequent than once per week.

Can visits be held more frequently than once per week?

We are happy to provide multiple visits per week, but each visit will be with a different set of students. We typically suggest that seniors start with a single weekly visit, before requesting a second or third visit.

What happens if the senior has an occasional conflict with their scheduled visit?

We understand that conflicts will happen. Please let us know as soon as possible, so we can tell the volunteers that they will not be meeting with the senior on that date.

Can the visits be changed to a different day or time if the senior's schedule changes?

Yes. Please reach out to us with the senior’s new schedule, and we’ll make the necessary changes. Please note that this may require changing the students who participate in the visits.

Following are some program questions that we sometimes receive about our virtual visits:

How long are the virtual visits?

The virtual visits vary in length. Our volunteers are committed to being available for an hour, but they understand if the senior has a shorter attention span.

What if the senior does not have the technology required for the visit?

In senior communities, the community will often have shared devices that they will use for the visits.

If this is not an option, we can suggest some tablets to use that cost less than $100.

Can family members watch the visits or participate in them?

Family members are welcome to watch the visits to see what they’re about or to monitor their loved one. In some cases, family members help facilitate the call.

If family members want to ‘meet’ the volunteers who are visiting their loved ones, they’re welcome to join in, but we ask that the focus of the visit be the volunteers speaking with the senior.

Can we schedule a trial visit to see if the senior likes it?

There is no cost for our program, so we suggest that if a senior is interested, they should schedule their visits. If they don’t like it, the visits can easily be canceled.

What if the senior doesn't like the visits?

If the senior doesn’t like the visits, we’ll ask if they just don’t feel like there is a good match between them and the students or if they just don’t want to do the call. If they don’t feel that the students are a good match for them, we’ll find other students. If the senior has decided that they don’t want to do the virtual visits, then we’ll cancel the call.

Can the senior meet with the volunteers in person or on the phone?

Our program is designed to be virtual, and we feel that there are many advantages to virtual visits over in-person volunteer visits or friendly phone caller programs.  For privacy reasons, we do not allow our visits to take place in person or over the phone. Seniors should not be sharing their address or phone number with the volunteers or requesting that information from the volunteers.

Can we have a call with a group of seniors meeting with the volunteers?

Our goal is to address social isolation. It is not effective to have the volunteers meeting with a group, because group dynamics typically result in some members of the group being more of the center of attention. Such a dynamic could increase feelings of loneliness in some of the other seniors.

We’re happy to schedule private visits for each of the seniors.

Are the calls recorded?

No. Calls are not recorded, and all records of any participants are deleted from our servers as soon as the last person disconnects from the call.

How is the senior's privacy protected?

We take the privacy of all of our participants very seriously. Seniors are typically known to the students by their first names only – unless they prefer to be addressed more formally, such as ‘Mr. Jones’. In addition to this, we cover the nature of private information in our training, and volunteers are not permitted to ask for the senior’s private information.

Our video visit system has been designed so that private information is not needed for the video calls. Both the volunteers and the senior  (or their caregiver) are provided with a code for the visit, which they enter on our website. There is no need for them to exchange phone numbers. Further, the volunteers are taught that sharing such information is prohibited.