In the midst of a global pandemic, one Central Coast family took to the lost art of letter writing to spread a little happiness to the residents of local residential aged care facility, Peninsula Villages in Umina Beach.
At aged care facilities across Australia, visitation restrictions mean that residents have been left without regular interactions with family and friends for many weeks. Whilst restrictions have now been slightly eased state-wide, contact for over 65s is still limited and discouraged for health and safety reasons.
Peninsula Villages Chief Executive Officer, Shane Neaves said that despite implementing ways for residents to connect with family and friends via technology, like most Australians, isolation and loneliness is still being felt across the board.
“While our staff continue to do a fantastic job at keeping residents connected and active through a multitude of different programs, nothing can replace the connection we feel from heart-felt and personal face to face interactions,” Shane continued.
But little did they know that a surprise delivery, in the form of a hand-written letter and drawings from a local family, would prove to be just the positivity-boost Village residents needed.
Siblings Harry and Matilda put pencils to paper to create beautiful handmade drawings for the residents of Peninsula Villages recently. Accompanied by a lovely note written by their mum, the children expressed their wish of adding some cheer to residents’ last month.
A part of the letter reads, ‘We are thinking of you, especially at this time when you must be missing your normal visitors. Big thanks to the staff doing a wonderful job right now. Much love, hope and joy to you’. It ends with both children’s names written in a child’s script.
“To receive a letter in an envelope, that they can open like the old days, they just really relate to that. It was magical to watch this spread joy as the letter was passed around amongst residents. They absolutely loved it and many of our residents replied back to the wonderful local family,” shared Shane.
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Continuing in the same vein, staff at Peninsula Villages are working hard at facilitating activities to keep residents active and engaged. Initiatives have included socially distanced morning exercises, bingo, art and craft with small groups and Zoom calls are being made with residents’ families.
“We are constantly working towards improving residents’ quality of life, ensuring both their bodies and minds receive a workout – be it through specialised exercise classes or the recent purchase of our own BrainTrainer Plus device that has been hugely popular,” he explained.
The BrainTrainer device is designed to encourage both brain stimulation and social integration, with the lifestyle team members setting this up for residents to undertake puzzles and games in some healthy resident versus resident competition.
“It’s really important to us that residents know that they aren’t alone in this. We are all feeling a little strange given the changing environment but what is most beneficial is the fact that our residents are being supported in a Village environment with others around them that they are able to talk to and express their concerns,” added Shane.
“As we keep saying, a little short-term pain is for long-term gain and we are lucky that we have the technology available to be able to support connections during this time. Our staff have been very helpful to get our care residents onto Zoom and FaceTime so they can see and hear their loved ones in some way,” he concluded.
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