Time banking system promotes community building
The launch of the Time Banking System in the New Brunswick area, by Julie Fagan, has provided many opportunities for individuals to get involved in the community. This system implements the theory of giving time in exchange for services. An individual can give an hour of their time doing a service for someone else, that hour will be stored in a bank, and when that individual needs a service done for them, they use their hour and exchange it for a service. These services may include babysitting, mowing the lawn, tutoring, a ride to an appointment, etc.
This system has brought many individuals together, out of isolation and into fulfilling relationships with other people. Not only that, but the use of time as a currency has benefited those who have struggled financially.
With the help of another student, we intend to implement a community exchange program that targets the elderly specifically. This program will use the members in the Time Bank and organize them into small committees that will target different parts of New Brunswick in order to make services available to as many elderly as possible. A liaison will also be chosen to help the elderly individuals get in contact with the right committee that will be able to help them.
The goal of this program is to support preventative health care efforts in the hopes of decreasing health care costs. Consider the following hypothetical scenario in which Betty, a 65-year-old woman, is living alone and is apathetic about her health. With no friends in the area and a lack of transportation, she does not go to her doctor visits, is unable to pick up her medications and is not eating properly. Suppose the combination of these factors has caused her blood pressure to skyrocket, resulting in an ambulance ride and a two-day stay at the hospital. According to President and CEO of the Monmouth Ocean Hospital Service Corporation, Vincent Robbins, in 2005 the average cost for paramedic service in New Jersey is about $2,000. The federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality finds that the average cost of a hospital stay in 2009 was $9,200. Upon discharge Betty finds it difficult to break her habits and continues her lifestyle, causing her health to dramatically decline. This decline in health results in a myriad of adverse side effects as well as an accumulation of health care costs. Unfortunately, this is the case for much of the elderly population in the New Brunswick community.
With the implementation of the neighbor-to-neighbor community exchange program, members of the community will become involved. Having members check up on Betty will reduce her seclusion from the community. Members providing transportation will help increase her likeliness to get to medical appointments and get access to her prescriptions, while members cooking meals will provide her with the nutrition she needs. These factors will help keep her blood pressure stable, potentially saving her from the ambulance ride and two-day hospital bill, a total of $20,400. Services provided by the time banking community also reduce the chance of her condition declining further.
Now that the framework for the program has been laid down, it is our hope that more people will become involved in the community exchange for the elderly. Currently, we are working on a way to make this opportunity available as a Student to Professional Internship Network internship so that Rutgers students can receive credits for getting involved. You can visit the website at www.middlesexnjstrong.timebanks.org/welcome to become a member of the Middlesex Time Bank. Rutgers students are encouraged to find out more about this program and how to get involved.
Jessica Fakeh is a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences senior majoring in biological sciences.