Volunteer-run newsletter keeping residents engaged

A daily newsletter published in more than 10 languages is helping to entertain and connect aged care residents and staff across three states during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A daily newsletter published in more than 10 languages is helping to entertain and connect aged care residents and staff across three states during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A team of 20 volunteers at Arcare Aged Care is putting together the Daily Bulletin, a newsletter that aims to boost the morale of residents and team members across the organisation’s 40 aged care communities in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland.

The newsletter, which has been running for more than 200 consecutive days since March, includes riddles, facts, jokes and “memory lane” stories, which highlight iconic and historic events.

Marg Furlong

Each day of the week has a different theme, such as motivating Monday, technology Tuesday, wellness Wednesday, thankful Thursday and feel good Friday.

It is produced in English and translated to languages including Greek, Italian, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Hungarian, Hebrew, Dutch, Finnish and Turkish to cater for residents from a non-English speaking background.

Arcare volunteer coordinator Marg Furlong said the volunteers came up with the initiative.

“Together we agreed that a daily edition of uplifting reading content prepared by the volunteer team would help keep everyone in good spirits, and hopefully serve as a reminder that these times will pass and we’ll be together again,” Ms Furlong told Australian Ageing Agenda.

The team decided it was important to publish an edition every day, including weekends and public holidays. 

“This was our way of letting the residents know we were thinking of them, to bring them encouragement whilst we weren’t able to visit in person,” Ms Furlong said.

There is also an audio version of newsletter for residents who are unable to read the content.

Matt Callan, who has been volunteering in aged care for 15 years as a singer, records the weekend editions of bulletin.

“I was already a volunteer at Arcare Malvern East and when I was approached to produce a talking bulletin for the weekends, I was happy to be involved,” Mr Callan said.

Arcare reached out to JoCare, an organisation encouraging friendship and support within neighbourhoods in Malvern in Victoria, for help recruiting and training newsletter volunteers, Ms Furlong said.

Feedback from residents has been positive, she said.

“They enjoy laughing at the jokes, reminiscing over the memory lane topics and the daily themes. We’ve been very moved to hear that the residents love the translations, and how they share the content with their families as a topic of conversation,” she said.

The group of volunteers meet fortnightly to discuss newsletter topics and set agendas.

“In some cases they’ve said being involved with the Daily Bulletins has given them something positive to focus on, as they’ve been managing their own setbacks and disappointments during the pandemic, such as lost employment, study placed on hold and delayed travel plans,” Ms Furlong said.

The newsletter is part of Arcare’s Volunteering from Home program, which was introduced to make phone calls and write letters to residents when visits were not permitted.

Main image: Arcare Surrey Hills residents Peter Rankin and Greg Meehan with the Daily Bulletin.

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Tags: Arcare Aged Care, coronavirus, COVID19, health and wellbeing, marg furlong, matt callan, newsletter,

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