New Outreach Program Asks Seniors, 'R-U-OK?'
For the elderly, it can be lonely and a bit scary to live on their own. That feeling of isolation has only been compounded with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Castle Rock Police Department has a new way to keep up with seniors living alone while providing connection and a little peace of mind.
It was a chance encounter with a resident living alone after the loss of her husband, which spurred Castle Rock Police Department (CRPD) Officer Lane to lead the effort to create the RUOK? program for seniors; or anyone with a disability living on their own.
"Seeing what she was experiencing firsthand left me with a strong desire to make sure she, and others in her same situation, have a connection to the community and don't feel lonely, even though they're living alone," said Lane.
Lane pitched the idea of the program to the Department leaders and received enthusiastic approval to organize the outreach program.
"We encourage our officers and staff to be innovative, and we celebrate creative thinking that leads to more and better opportunities to serve our residents," said Police Chief Jack Cauley. "The RUOK? program is one example of how our department is proactively looking to truly make a difference within our community."
The goal of CRPD's RUOK? program is to regularly connect with the most vulnerable populations to make sure they are doing well, are safe and help identify any needs they may have. There is no charge for the program, and it's available to any senior citizen over 65 years old or any disabled individual living alone.
"Individuals over 65 represent 9.5% of the residents in Castle Rock, and that percentage continues to increase," said Chief Cauley. "This is an ideal time to establish the RUOK? program and improve outreach and connections with this important group within our community."
Seniors - Apply for the Program
Application to the program is required. After an individual is enrolled, a police officer or volunteer with CRPD will make phone contact at a minimum of once per week to check on the participant's welfare.
- If the participant answers the phone, the officer or volunteer will inquire if they are OK.
- If the answer is yes, they simply hang up and continue with their day.
- If a concern is expressed, the officer or volunteer will determine the nature of the concern and whether a response is necessary or prudent.
- Unanswered calls or busy signals are called back.
- If there is still no response, the officer or volunteer will contact the individual's emergency contact and request an officer be dispatched for a welfare check.
- Additionally, if needs are identified during contact with participants, the police officer or volunteer will act as a liaison to connect the individual to programs or services, which can provide additional support.
"I'm so thrilled that CRPD now has a new option to help our seniors and give them more opportunities to connect with others and better peace of mind that someone is regularly checking in," said Lane.
Questions? Contact Officer Coyle via email or call at 303-663-6153.
Volunteers for the RUOK? Program
We are always looking for enthusiastic people with a passion for helping our seniors. If you would like to volunteer to make phone calls, please submit a volunteer application.