The write stuff to help seniors in self-isolation

Amber, 7, with an example of her artwork she sent to her new pen pal through the Home Instead Pen Pal program.

Amber, 7, with an example of her artwork she sent to her new pen pal through the Home Instead Pen Pal program.

A new program has been launched to find pen pals for seniors to help them cope with social distancing and self-isolation. .

Karen Buckley from Home Instead Senior Care Sydney Eastern Suburbs and Lou Rice, from Better with Rice, have created the Home Instead Pen Pal Program.

This invites seniors, either those in their own homes or residing in aged care facilities, to stay connected with the community while they are in social isolation.

"Members of the community can either handwrite a letter which they can scan and attach to an email, or write an email telling their senior pen pal a little bit about themselves," Karen said.

"Pictures can also be added. We have set the system up electronically to adhere to the COVID-19 guidelines and protocols.

"CAREGivers and Health Care Workers will print out the letters and notes and distribute them to the senior they are caring for.

'If there is a response, they will scan it and send it on accordingly," Karen said.

"It will help in some way to enable one of the most vulnerable groups in our society to feel less alone and isolated at this time."

"By writing to a senior and sharing your messages, we can make seniors feel connected with their community and overcome any feelings of loneliness they may be experiencing.

"You can record or write a hopeful message or get creative by sharing a favourite poem or a funny story. Everyone can get involved, and we even have some fun templates for kids too.

"You can choose to send a one-off message or team up with a regular Pen Pal."

The pen pal program was only started on March 20 and has already gone national.

Karen aso encouraged aged care facilities to register if they know of seniors who would like to receive a message or find a pen pal.

"It's very much a two-way transaction," she said.

Karen Buckley and Lou Rice have also teamed up with Trish Pegorer, Managing Director of Mutti Australia, to coordinate the collection and delivery of donations of non perishable foodstuffs and other essential items.

Goods have been donated predominately by members of the community Facebook page "Viral Kindness Eastern Suburbs Sydney" with generous contributions from local businesses such as Mutti Australia and The Management Agency.

It all started with the donation of toilet rolls for clients of Home Instead Senior Care. These generous donations will be forwarded onto the most at risk in the community.

"As a community, we want to show our seniors we are thinking of them during these uncertain times. This is why we are coordinating both practical initiatives," Karen said.

"Not only does it make life easier for our vulnerable seniors, it eases the pressure of them needing to go to the shops, and in turn, reduces their risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

"We are looking forward to expanding into the Sutherland Shire in the coming weeks."

To register to become a pen pal with senior go to https://homeinstead.com.au/penpals/

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