About Partners In Care
Time-banking, which is also called service-exchange, is the tool we use to empower older adults to remain independent in their situation of choice. Our objective is to build community by engaging people to help each other with the myriad tasks involved in everyday living. It is an innovative concept-in-action which provides an incentive for people to get involved. Anyone who helps out will get help back from the community when they need it. Everyone has something to contribute and is valued for it. It is affirming and empowering.
Here are a few samples of the countless "matches" made among our 2,400 volunteer members. You can:
- Help someone read their mail and in exchange have a ride to a medical appointment.
- Pick up groceries for a neighbor and in exchange have your computer repaired.
- Use your handyman skills to fix someone's leaky faucet and in exchange have your errands run by a friendly helper.
- Work in the Upscale, Resale Boutique a few hours and in exchange have a ride to the airport.
Our currency is time
We all have 24 hours in the day. It's the idea of social justice and social responsibility. We can help ourselves and each other live with dignity and independence, and we can feel a sense of community, if we help each other. It's intentional reciprocity. It's very powerful.
PIC is the first service exchange program based in Maryland. We were founded in 1993 and have been making careful and creative "matches" between people for almost 20 years! We want to benefit all Maryland residents by expanding the concept - it's just one community member helping another. The vision is to network sites so that neighbors and families can be supported across distances. We are headquartered in Anne Arundel County (about an hour east of Washington) and have sites in Calvert County, Frederick County, and Talbot County. Other communities recognize the value of the program and ask for help to establish their own sites to support their aging populations.
We have recently received a grant from the National Council on Aging (NCOA) to study and fine-tune our program for possible national replication. See NCOA.
The services we provide are non-medical and neighborly, including transportation, handyman help, yard work, friendly visits, support for caregivers, emergency safety and preparedness, socialization programs, advocacy, paid and volunteer work opportunities, and more.
Time-Banking: Now more than ever. The time-banking/service-exchange model is particularly valuable as individual and community resources are stretched thin in this economy. We accomplish more with less because we use assets which are already in the community. It's social capital at work, civic engagement, and co-production.
What is Service Exchange?
The service exchange concept is based upon the premise that everyone has something to contribute. People are affirmed. By sharing skills among a large network of people, community is created and the tasks of daily living are accomplished. When a volunteer member performs a task, he earns credit hours that may be banked for use at a later date, donated to another person or contributed to the community bank.
For instance, a seventy-year old woman drives another person to the doctor periodically. She earns hours in her bank and can receive partial fuel reimbursement. When her arthritis prohibits her from installing her storm windows, she calls for someone to help her. Two volunteer members go out to put up the windows. One volunteer who performs the task donates his hours to an older neighbor, so that she will have "time in the bank" to call in if she needs groceries. The other window helper donates his hours to the general pool. Older adults at home can give back by making telephone calls, donating excess "stuff" from their home to The Boutique, or by making a contribution. Having credits in the "bank" makes it easier for people to ask for help when needed. It's parity - not charity - because people earn the help they need by participating. It's also a way to show how good deeds make stronger bonds in the community.
What types of services does Partners In Care provide?
Partners In Care members provide help with daily non-medical tasks as friendly neighbors. Depending on the availability of volunteers at given times, we advocate for our members, and help people access benefits and services they are entitled to, provide assistance with medical and insurance forms, make phone calls, write letters, and have personal and phone visits, in addition to transportation and handyman repairs. Additional for-fee services include care management, arranging contractor services for larger home repair issues, and home-sharing.
We recognize that elder abuse is a big problem, and we help protect older adults by helping them deal with contractors and vendors through our Repairs With Care program.
How do I request services?
If you need help, call 410-544-4800 or 800-227-5500 to reach us in Anne Arundel County; 410-474-4501 for Calvert County; 301-600-6008 for Frederick County, or 410-822-1803 for Talbot County. We'll set up a time to come out to meet you, conduct a brief interview and fill out an application. Once you become a member of the program, give us a call when you need help with something.
Volunteer match-makers work in the office every day linking people to each other. Those who need services on a certain day are matched to someone who wants to provide service on that day. Everyone contributes if possible. Today you may be on one side of the equation and on the other side tomorrow. Working together to identify and utilize assets in the community, we can use everyone’s time and talents to get the necessary jobs done.
See Time-Banking Training to learn more.