Making an Impact: Tele-Counseling Requires a Phone


In the Making an Impact series, clients and services are featured to expand awareness of the wide array of help available at JFS and to ensure donors understand the lives they touch and the difference they make throughout the community. Client names have been changed to protect their confidentiality.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, JFS PEARLS counselors who work with seniors suffering from depression or low mood were suddenly unable to meet with these clients in person, eliminating the hallmark of this program that allows seniors to see a counselor in the comfort and safety of their own home. The program continued over the telephone, but the counselors found that some of these clients didn’t have a working phone.

One of these clients lives alone and has no nearby family or friends. Last fall, she suffered a traumatic brain injury. Medicare benefits were scheduled to begin in February, but she found the enrollment application process complicated despite getting help from Medicare resources. There was a problem with the application and the benefits did not begin. Many government offices are closed and have moved their services online, but she doesn’t have a computer. She relies on her government-issued phone to contact Medicare to solve the problems and start her benefits. However, her phone is running out of minutes. The PEARLS counselor referred her to the JFS Community Case Manager to connect her to a program that offers phones so she can pursue her Medicare benefits and resume her PEARLS sessions.

Another client who was referred to PEARLS lives in an assisted living facility. Unfortunately, her phone stopped working and she has no support system to help her fix it or get a new one. This presented several problems including having an already overwhelmed facility staff bring the client to a community phone, which unfortunately was in an open area with no privacy. The PEARLS counselor alerted the client’s case manager to try to get her a new phone so she can start the PEARLS program.

JFS staff continues to lean into the problems their clients face and overcome obstacles, big and small, to improve their well-being.