Silver Key Senior Services has worked to better the lives of senior citizens since opening its doors in 1971.
The nonprofit connects seniors with a variety of programs to address daily needs that offer transportation, home delivered meals and other health and wellness services including mental health.
“Our vision is that the value, worth and needs of all seniors are identified and honored,” says Jayme Holligan, Silver Key’s director of volunteer engagement and community relations. “We know that the lives of seniors matter and our services have great value.”
Holligan says the COVID-19 pandemic “has been a true test of mental health for our Silver Key staff, volunteers, and clients.”
“We partnered with the National Alliance on Mental [Illness] and Diversus Health to provide an evidence-based mental health first aid course throughout the year to teach staff and volunteers about the overwhelming mental health crisis, how to respond in emergencies, and resources for extra support,” she says. “Participants learned a five-step action plan to connect with professional or personal resources in a state of crisis.”
Silver Key also offers an employee assistance program with six sessions per person, per topic, per year, for its workers and their dependents, Holligan says.
“The EAP benefits are 100 percent paid for by Silver Key to provide more balance with work and home life,” she says. “This benefit is completely confidential and offered through Henderson Consulting in Colorado Springs. In March 2021, Henderson Consulting conducted an online webinar for our staff regarding the eight dimensions of wellness to make space for reflection and intention-setting for participants to choose an area of focus to cultivate in this new year.
“The webinar discussed the importance of emotional/mental, occupational, intellectual, spiritual, physical, environmental, social, and financial well-being. Henderson Consulting provided several skills to success with self-regulation, habit formation, self-awareness, and being strategic.”
Holligan says the webinar was popular, with almost a third of Silver Key staff participating.
Chief Strategy Officer Derek Wilson says Silver Key has strived to ramp up its mental health efforts during the pandemic, and that the organization’s clients are disproportionately impacted due to social isolation.
“We saw that at a micro level here locally” during the pandemic, Wilson says, “where the number of folks that either were diagnosed or self-expressed that they had some sort of mental health issue, anxiety, depression [or] substance abuse ... was increasing exponentially.
“We already had things in place, but we knew we had to double down and really increase those efforts. That was the first thing we saw — just the sheer volume of numbers. We also know that social isolation, it kills. It rots the brain. It robs the soul of that dignity, that will and purpose in your life.”
To ease clients’ anxiety over end-of-life care, Silver Key adopted the Five Wishes advanced care plan. The program allows a person to choose medical treatment and decisions surrounding comfort and end-of-life care proactively, with what Wilson refers to as “easy-to-understand legal documents.”
Silver Key has hired a new behavioral health specialist to continue building its mental health efforts, with a focus on providing more counseling services and assessments to determine the best course of treatment. Silver Key will continue to build its capacity in behavioral and mental health in order to best serve its clients, he says.