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February - looking at the future

February 2008     

In This Issue

  • Distress/Crisis Line Services throughout the world
  • Lines of the World - website to review
  • Aging at Home Strategy
  • Aging at Home -
    Guiding Principles
  • DCO Visioning Day  Contemplating the Future
  • Participant's Comments


















































Aging at Home
Guiding Principles

SENIOR CENTRED - Services must respond to the needs of seniors

COMMUNITY BASED AND INTEGRATED - with broader health care systems

EQUITABLE - recognize demographic and geographic challenges

COST EFFECTIVE - best care at optimal cost recognizing benefits of volunteerism and developing local community responses

RESULTS ORIENTED - results defined and measured

LOCAL COMMUNITY ORIENTED - build on capacity in local neighbourhoods and within communities of like interest (ethno-cultural, linguistic, religious, sexual orientation) 






Participant's Comments

- Wonderful session
- We felt that our ideas were  appreciated
- This is long overdue
- We can't wait to work on these ideas 


Distress/Crisis Line Services throughout the world

In September 2007 there was a gathering of the membership of Befrienders Worldwide in York, UK.  Twenty four countries from all over the world were represented during the multi-day event.  There was representation from South Africa, Singapore, Serbia, Spain, Sri Lanka and a multitude of locations in between.

Delegates found that many key issues emerged during their sharing sessions.  As in Canada, any centres that depend on volunteers to deliver their programs find issues of volunteer recruitment, attrition and retention to be challenging.  Those locations that have multi cultural or multi racial populations within their service areas found the challenges multiplied. 

Though all Befrienders centres share their genesis in the Samaritan model of non-judgemental telephone listening, over 60% have embraced alternate electronic technologies as an additional way of delivering services.  Some have provided email support for almost a decade and are eagerly moving to SMS support.

Funding, for many of these grass roots organizations, continues to be a critical determinant of their success.  A few enjoy some level of government support for operations or special promotion activities, but the majority continue to fund-raise.  Many have successfully merged their fund-raising and awareness building activities into single projects.

In San Paolo Brazil, the CVV, Centro de Valorizacao da Vida, have developed a very engaging set of television commercials that highlight the kind of support their centres provide and the relief and well-being that callers feel after interactions with volunteer listeners.  The increased visibility has improved the fund-raising abilities of their centre.  To view two films see

In Serbia, SRCE Novi Sad has partnered with music promoters and have their volunteers man the welfare stages at outdoor music festivals.  They have tents set up throughout the concert area where those who are in distress or contemplating self-harm can learn about their telephone support lines, and also have in-person listening sessions with volunteers.  The centre is paid for concert services as well as being highly promoted at the event.

In India, the Lifeline Foundation has increased awareness in their subway ‘tube' systems with signage promoting their services and by befriending the tube drivers.  The tubes provide a direct link to those who are actively contemplating suicide and   the drivers' often direct people who seem desperate to support services.  Drivers also often need help dealing with their own emotions after a completed suicide on their watch.

Worldwide, the need for volunteer provided befriending support continues to increase.  The face-to-face support services are very important in areas where telephones are still considered new innovations, while in a few locations volunteers face persecution by authorities because they are dealing with taboo topics like suicide.

We in Canada can consider ourselves fortunate for our circumstances but we should also be challenged by the innovations, best practices and ideas coming from others in the Befriending network.

Review these websites for some interesting information

Websites in English
SOS Help in France
Samaritans in Singapore
Samaritans in Sri Lanka
Samaritans in South Africa
LifeLine Foundation in India
Samaritans of Boston
Tokyo English Life Line

Non - English websites
Samaritans Rome
CVV in Brazil
Odessa Confidence Telephone Service
SOS  Kirkens SOS I Telemark in Norway
Bl Suicide Prevention Center Tokyo & Osaka
SRCE Novi Sad


Aging At Home Strategy - Update
Ministry of Health and Long Term Care

The Ontario government has invested more than $700 million over three years in their Aging at Home strategy.  All 14 Local Health Integration Networks (LHINS) are well into the process of tailoring specific programs to meet the needs of their local populations.

20% of the funding is earmarked for innovative approaches to increase equity and access for marginalized and at risk seniors.  These approaches will also include funding to support non-traditional partnerships and new preventive and wellness services.  Some of our member centres have submitted pre-proposals to their local LHINs as one of the examples of such innovation are friendly telephone calls similar to the Telecheck services of some of our centres.

On Wednesday, February 20, the LHINs hosted a public, provincial Aging at Home Video Conference opened by Minister George Smitherman.  Member centres can learn about some of the projects that LHINs consider innovative and in-line with the Aging at Home strategy. 

To watch the full public meeting via webcast - access the following link and select the session highlighted below.
TSM # 3409463 - MOHLTC_Aging at Home Community Innovation Exchange_Archived ONLY - Mediasite 2_2/20/2008


DCO Visioning Day - Contemplating the Future
Preliminary Comments

On February 1st, 2008 leaders of member centres in Ontario gathered together in Niagara Falls to think about the future.  Specifically, they looked at the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the distress line movement, engaged in some environmental scanning and then moved on to construct stories that would describe the future of Distress Centres in Ontario.

An action summary report will be distributed to all member centres, but here is a brief synopsis of some of the discussions and finding.

Some of the factors (events, issues and incidents) that impact Ontario's Distress Centres

Increase in suicide (ideation) by teens
Increase in suicide amongst First Nation peoples (on/off reserve)
Increased need for assurance for seniors
Baby-boomer population - increasing retirees
Growth of Immigrant Communities
Teens' heavy use of alternative technology
Review and identify key issues in volunteer management  Marketplace/Economy
Reduced collections by United Ways
Support to illness-related charities
Increasing household debt
Changes in the job market
Industry downturns 
New communication technologies emerging
No uniform platforms & standards amongst DC's
Affordability of call centre technology
Growth of other call centres
Wide-Area Networks
Human Resources
Recruiting volunteers is changing
Volunteer commitment levels changing
Younger volunteers
Employee recruitment & retention 
Increasing accountability pressures for NPOs
CRTC regulations re phones and internet
Full disclosure vs anonymity
Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs)
Proposed legislation re psychotherapy
Issues re assisted suicide
National Mental Health Commission
No Suicide Prevention Strategy

During the Story-building exercises several common themes emerged

End current isolation:  Need to come together, integrate, find ways to work amongst ourselves
Geography becomes "virtual":
 Need for central services coordination, single contact number (1-800) & single voice for advocacy and promotion, in conjunction with local capacity building
Promote more: Overwhelming need for more promotion and marketing of DCs on a broader basis re who we are and services we provide
Transition period:  It may take a full 3 years for us to transition to common programming with localized elements and sharing of resources
Accreditation required:  It is essential to create new standards, identify best practices and require accreditation (of centres)
DCO: The role and importance of DCO will grow
   Our capability and flexibility in upgrading our telephony and adopting new technologies will be a key factor in determining our future

Next Issue

CASP Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention

AOP Anti- Oppressive Practice and Durham Distress Centre

ACTION PRIORITIES from the Visioning Day


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