Program uses local businesses to help seniors in need

REDDING, Calif. - The Gatekeeper Program, dedicated to helping senior citizens, tries to identify seniors who need help before an issue becomes serious.

The Redding-based program is organized by Compass Shining Care, and it is free of charge for those who need it. Organizers say they have 925 'Gatekeepers' in the community so far.

The concept behind the program is simple -- local businesses that want to be ‘Gatekeepers' sign up and are trained.

Their assignment is to keep an eye out for seniors who need help during the course of their normal day.

Rick Russell of Russell Cleaning Service is a proud participant in the program.

"A customer not too long ago, when we were in her house cleaning the carpets, she was very emotional and was crying," said Russell.

As a Gatekeeper, he immediately did something about it.

"[We] said, 'Hey, we can refer you to somebody that can help you,'" said Russell. He added that it is a "big asset" for Redding to have a program like this.

"It's that trusted person that the older adult knows and feels comfortable with that can help them call," said Joanne McCarley is the executive director at Compass Shining Care.

She said that teaching businesses about what to look out for is making a big difference and that there are obvious signs people can look for to know that someone is in need.

"Things like personal appearance, changes in their personal appearance, changes in their personality and how they are acting, "said McCarley.

For Rick Russell, looking out for seniors in need just makes sense, especially considering the number of people he meet on a daily basis.

"We're out in the community, we're coming in contact with a lot of people," said Russell.

And while they are out in the city, McCarley says that the businesses are able to be a "vital link" to the support and care that some of the seniors might need.

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