In 1992, an increasing need for outreach to the homebound in the Archdiocese of New York became apparent. With the trend toward shorter hospital stays, discharge planners at local hospitals reported that recently discharged individuals would need assistance during the first few weeks at home. Other than paid home care agencies, there was no established system in place to serve these individuals.
Together, Sister Jean Canora, O.S.F and Eleanor Ramos, M.S., structured a program called Outreach to the Homebound. They, with the assistance of two additional staff members, formulated a training guide for volunteer coordinators, recruited volunteers from the parishes, supervised their training and maintained on-going support.
The volunteers are trained to provide medical transportation, shopping, home visits, telephone reassurance, and chores. Some parishes provide a meals-on-wheels delivery route one or two days per week for seniors and those with HIV/AIDS. The visits and telephone services increase the support services for the homebound individuals. By 1997, nearly 600 trained volunteers from 51 parishes volunteered to help more than 1000 homebound persons. Additionally, more than 100 sessions of caregiver support seminars were presented to approximately 350 caregivers.
A vital aspect of Outreach to the Homebound is the creation of community. Service to the homebound goes well beyond parishioners. Services are provided to any individual in need.