S.C.A.N. volunteers construct access ramps for local seniors in need.

The Rhea County Senior Citizen Awareness Network, commonly called S.C.A.N., was one of Sheriff Mike Neal’s goals when he first began his campaign for the office of Rhea County Sheriff. He knew that the seniors of Rhea County needed some attention and that there are a many elderly citizens living in the county that have no family, family members that live out of state or who have limited visitation, so Neal wanted to implement a program to assist them.

The program consists of volunteers who visit the homes of each elder and check on their wellbeing. Volunteers strive to make contact with each client at least twice per month. They may spend several hours talking with the senior and listening to stories about their family life. In some cases, the volunteers will help determine if the client is eligible for various assistance programs and help coordinate with various other agencies to provide services if needed. When necessary, they will help the senior complete the paperwork that is required to access these programs and services.

To ensure their safety, the volunteers make sure each home has working smoke detectors. Where smoke detectors are required, the local fire department is contacted to conduct the installation.

S.C.A.N. makes sure that each elderly citizen has someone coming into their home that can help with their care and ensure they are not being abused or becoming a victim of a scam. The volunteers talk to them about common and popular scams they may encounter and continually remind them to never give personal information to anyone over the phone.

It is an especially difficult situation when an elder must choose between purchasing their medication for the month or buying the food that they need. A food pantry has been created to assist those enrolled in the S.C.A.N. program. The pantry is maintained through fundraisers, support from businesses in the county and monetary donations. In addition to food items, donations of personal hygiene products and paper products are also distributed. Recipients must meet qualifications to receive food pantry items.

For those that qualify, the program coordinates with other groups and agencies to build wheelchair ramps for their homes, making it easier for these seniors to enter and leave their house. S.C.A.N. will assist the senior in utilizing the services of the Southeast Human Resources Agency (SETHRA) in case they may need transportation such as traveling to and from doctor appointments and shopping for groceries. At Christmastime S.C.A.N. makes sure each person receives a little gift from the program.

S.C.A.N volunteer applicants must pass a background check before they can begin serving the elders in the community. Each volunteer is provided with uniform and credentials identifying them as representatives of the S.C.A.N. program. They drive specially-marked Rhea County Sheriff’s Department vehicles.

To enroll a Rhea County senior in the program, to submit an application to volunteer or for more information, contact Pam Hixson at the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department Office, located at 444 Second Avenue in Dayton, or call 423-775-7837.