In our highly mobile society, people are increasingly finding themselves isolated, whether it is due to economics, loss of family or friends, healthcare challenges, or mobility issues. In fact, social isolation is the #1 silent health crisis.
How does an elder become a program participant?
To refer elders to our one-on-one programs – Friendly Visiting, Medical Escorts, or Friendly Helping:
- Click on the button to fill out a referral form
- You will be contacted by a FriendshipWorks staff person for a short conversation about the older adult.
- This conversation will take place prior to reaching out to an individual. All older adults need to consent to a phone call by FriendshipWorks.
- A FriendshipWorks staff person will contact the individual to confirm their interest and to collect other relevant information. A staff member will set up a date to do a home intake with any older adult interested in Friendly Visiting or Friendly Helping.
- Once FriendshipWorks has identified a potential volunteer match, FriendshipWorks will connect the individual and the volunteer. In the case of Friendly Visiting, staff will accompany volunteers to the older adult's home on the first visit.
Generally, you can expect that older adults will be contacted within a week after a FriendshipWorks staff member has spoken to the referring person/facility/organization.
Who’s eligible for services from FriendshipWorks?
- Older adults over 60 years of age or
- Older adults over 55 years of age with significant visual or hearing impairment
- Must live in Boston, Brookline (or Newton, Cambridge, or Somerville for Friendly Visiting only)
- Must be free from moderate to severe cognitive impairment
- Must be free from moderate to severe cognitive impairment or mental health issues that would impede relationship building, especially for Friendly Visiting
- Must be free of active drug or alcohol dependencies
What programs are available?
Friendly Visiting: Friendly Visitors develop one-on-one relationships with older adults. They visit once a week and share in companion activities like having coffee or tea, sharing stories, going for walks, or listening to music.
Medical Escorts: Our Medical Escorts offers comfort, reassurance, and mobility/navigation assistance to elders beginning inside the home, continuing to the doctor’s office and appointment room, and ending with a safe return back inside the home. Serving Boston and Brookline. We do not provide transportation, but accompany elders on public transport, The Ride, or other transportation the elder arranges. Please note that requests for medical escort services require 14 business days' notice in advance of a medical appointment. This time allows our coordinators to identify and schedule an appropriate volunteer for your escort.
Friendly Helpers: Volunteers provide short-term and one-time assistance to elders that have a specific need, but no one to help. Activities include: helping with organization, seasonal tasks, and accompaniment on errands. This is a limited service and does not include heavy chores, cleaning, or home care assistance.
For questions about specific programs, please refer to the staff contact page. You should hear from a FriendshipWorks staff member within 7 to 10 days after submitting a referral, although many times our staff are able to get in touch sooner.
See our Programs page for more information about our programs.
What languages can FriendshipWorks serve?
We recruit volunteers who speak a multitude of languages based on the older adult’s needs, with a special focus on Spanish speakers. In addition, we have bilingual Spanish-English speaking staff.
Does FriendshipWorks provide transportation?
No. FriendshipWorks does not provide transportation for medical escorts. Volunteers will accompany elders to and from their visit, offering emotional and physical support. Volunteers will call and work with transportation services to ensure arrival if needed. We also offer a free Medical Escort and Transportation Guide for individuals to arrange their appointment transportation.
Does FriendshipWorks screen its volunteers?
Yes. FriendshipWorks screens all volunteers before they are matched with an older adult. Volunteers go through an interview, background check, and training program. Pets in our PetPals program are also screened by an animal behaviorist.
“There’s someone behind the lace curtains.”
Looking out from behind the lace curtains or blinds that line building windows may be someone watching the world go by because they have limited mobility or social contacts. They may simply be in need of a friend, need a helping hand, or want some to accompany them to a doctor’s appointment and pick up their medications. That’s where FriendshipWorks comes in.
Those we serve tell us they:
- Have a friend to talk to, go places with, or share mutual interests
- Attend medical appointments they might otherwise miss
- Complete or have help with short-term tasks that improve their lifestyle
- Be accountable to someone so they are not alone and enjoy support
- Find companionship so they feel connected to the world
If you know of someone who may need a friend, a medical escort, or a friendly helper, we’re here to help. We have free programs that address a variety of areas to help reduce elder isolation.
“We can’t do what we need to without a service like FriendshipWorks. Thank you!”
MGH Healthcare worker
“I always know I can count on FriendshipWorks volunteers to give me a hand. And I’ve had nothing but good experiences with all of them,”
“FriendshipWorks has been an unbelievably invaluable resource to my family. Every volunteer we’ve had over the years has been wonderful.”
Family Member of a FriendshipWorks Recipient
Still unsure if our programs are the right fit for the older adult in your life? Our program coordinators are happy to talk with you and find the services best for you!