The Co-Pilot Program was created, designed and is fully implemented by the residents at Kendal on Hudson. It is a resident-to-resident support system for residents who must go to the local hospital emergency room and who do not have a spouse or close friend available to go with them. These are people who would otherwise “fly solo”—thus explaining the program name –which is also intended to convey that the patient remains in charge and the Co-Pilot is there only to assist. The program is entirely carried out by resident volunteers who sign up to be Co-Pilots for one or more 12-hour periods each month. The co-pilots are called by our emergency response nurse when (s)he sends a resident to Phelps Hospital, which is contiguous to our community—presuming that the situation is appropriate and with the resident’s specific permission. Co-Pilots can travel in an ambulance with the resident, or drive behind the ambulance or, in some cases will actually drive the patient to the ER if that is safe. The Co-Pilot remains at the ER with the patient to make phone calls, run errands and provide support and company. The role of a Co-Pilot is also to be a “second ear,” a channel of communication (especially to distant family) and a means to get necessary items (such as clothing or personal items) from the resident’s apartment as necessary.
Co-Pilots have provided this service close to four dozen times in three years of operation, providing a level of support that would otherwise be unobtainable and serves as a way to reduce stress and provide neighborly care to those in need. It is offered 24/7 and has never had a failure to respond.
In 2010, the program received recognition and the Innovation of the Year award from NYAHSA, New York Association of Homes & Services for the Aging.