The Bluffton Police Department will soon offer an important service to the most vulnerable members of the community, regularly phoning the elderly and others who are confined to their homes.
The new program, Citizen Assistance Response Efforts (CARE), is modeled after a similar program in the city of Beaufort and will rely on volunteers to man the phones and check on a list of clients every few days.
For some, the call will serve as a rare chance to socially interact with another person.
For others, it could be a lifesaver. Volunteers who make the calls will be able to request a health and welfare check if something seems wrong or a client has been out of touch for three consecutive calls.
The program is being offered for free. The police department is seeking volunteers as well as clients through area assisted living homes and senior care agencies.
Caregivers can also get some peace of mind from the program. Those heading out of town for a few days can ask CARE to check on their loved one.
While Bluffton is a relatively "young" town -- only 7 percent of its resident are 65 years and older, according to census data -- such a program is still a worthy pursuit. Participants don't have to be elderly. People who are disabled or homebound for other reasons are welcome to participate too.
Programs like CARE are becoming increasingly popular across the country, with some municipalities purchasing computer programs that automatically call residents. If the person doesn't answer the phone, the police department is notified.
We prefer Bluffton's approach, putting two "live" people in touch for a friendly chat.
It lets our most vulnerable citizens know someone cares.