You may have heard about “telephone reassurance” or “telephone reassurance programs” available in your community, but what the heck are they? Let’s clear that up.
In this article, we’ll go through:
What is Telephone Reassurance?
How Does it Work?
The History and Evolution up to 2021
What is telephone reassurance?
The name “telephone reassurance” might sound a bit strange, but it’s straightforward:
Telephone Reassurance is a phone call to check on someone’s safety and wellbeing.
Many variations of telephone reassurance programs exist. The big differentiators are:
Purpose (Safety and/or Social Contact)
Target Audience (Seniors, Adult Children, Latchkey Kids)
Organizer (Government, Law Enforcement, Nonprofit)
Caller (Computer or Person)
For the rest of this article, we’ll focus on programs for seniors that focus on safety and use an automated telephone reassurance system.
How does it work?
First, someone needs to setup the system:
Make an account with a telephone reassurance software.
Enter in the details necessary details including: what seniors to call, what times to call them, and who to call if they don't answer.
After setup, everyday:
Seniors will receive automated calls at the scheduled times. They will automatically hear a checkup message like "This is the San Diego Police Department, if you are OK, please press 1."
Seniors will be called up to 3 times if they do not answer or press 1.
If they do not answer or press 1, the program organizer will be notified.
It's up to the organizer of the program to figure out what to do next. Typically, they will contact the senior's emergency contacts, or if deemed necessary, conduct a welfare check.
Bruce Johnson developed the first telephone reassurance program in 1988, called RUOK (“Are you ok?”). It was a wonderful invention. In the first month that it was deployed at the Osage Police Department, it saved the lives of multiple seniors.
The system used, at the time, state-of-the-art technology, including early computers and auto-dialing machines. Law enforcement primarily deployed the technology (police, sheriff, and fire departments).
Although the technology was advanced for the time, technology has evolved a lot between 1988 and 2021. Now modern telephone reassurance software can be just a website -- no hardware needed. You can create multiple accounts for different members of your team (volunteers, administrators), all of the calls are done in the cloud, and you are notified of alerts through text messages, emails, or calls. And the best part is, you can try them for free!
Photo from MySafetyCall.com
Telephone Reassurance is just a phone call to check on someone’s safety, and wellbeing and a Telephone Reassurance Program is an organized call system that does the same thing. To learn more, check out our other posts: