Regional New South Wales aged care provider Anglican Care is among providers to launch a pen pal program to help prevent social isolation and loneliness among residents during the coronavirus pandemic.
The program Connecting Generations encourages school children to send letters, cards and pictures to aged care residents.
It aims to reduce social isolation and loneliness following new rules restricting visitor access including no one unders 16 years as part of measures to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in facilities (read more here).
Anglican Care marketing manager Kylie Jacques said social distancing was the priority, but remaining socially connected was still important.
“People still need to make meaningful connections with one another but fulfilling that need may look a little different for a while.
“National restrictions on visitors to Anglican Care means our residents won’t be able to see anyone under 16 and for many of them this loss will be upsetting,” Ms Jacques said.
The letters let residents and children to remain connected, she said.
Primary school students Dee, 12, and Olive, eight, said they were missing their friends while undertaking school lessons from home.
“We thought that the Anglican Care residents might be feeling the same way,” the pair said.
“So, we talked with mum and decided to write letters to stay connected and we are super excited to hear their reply and to make some new friends,” Dee and Olive said.
Arcadia Vale Primary School has also joined the Connecting Generations program.
More than 10 students have sent handwritten letters to several Anglican Care homes including Jesmond Grove, Scenic Lodge, Toronto Nursing Home, Carey Bay Gardens, Kilpatrick Court, Greenmount Gardens and McIntosh Nursing Home.
“This is just a small way to get children involved in helping people feel better in their community,” Ms Jacques said.
“And who knows, it may also help some of the parents out there undertaking home schooling duties.”
Anglican Care is requesting all pen pals upload their correspondance here to support infection control measures. All correspondence will be printed for residents.
Personalised letters bringing smiles
Aged care residents at Bethanie Beachside in Western Australia have already received handwritten messages and drawings from year 3 students at Two Rocks Primary School.
The residents visited the students last year, however as the residents are unable to currently visit, the students each wrote a letter a drew pictures for them.
A few residents had letters addressed to them including Edwin Mileham, who received a personal letter from student Emily D.
Bethanie Beachside occupational therapist Emily Baker said receiving letters during this could lift everyone’s spirits.
“It was such a thoughtful and meaningful gesture from the students at Two Rocks Primary School and when the time comes where we can connect the two groups again, I am sure Edwin will be most pleased to personally thank Emily for his letter,” Ms Baker said.
“I encourage more people to do it as it brings such a huge smile to the faces of our residents,” she said.