Woodlea pen pal program helps seniors combat loneliness
In the face of continuing social distancing restrictions on aged-care facilities, the fast-growing community of Woodlea in Melbourne’s west has launched a senior pen pal program — encouraging children and residents of the community to engage with residents of local aged-care and retirement facilities.
The program aims to combat feelings of loneliness associated with social isolation by providing a way for seniors to stay connected with the local community during the pandemic lockdown.
Sutton Park Aged Care and Kalyna Care are two residences that have been in lockdown — or had strict guidelines for visitors — in order to keep vulnerable residents safe during COVID-19. Since initiating the program, residents across both facilities have signed up to take part, joining kindergarten students from Woodlea Early Education. Woodlea hopes that participation in the program will foster long-term community relationships.
Woodlea Marketing Manager Lora Armstrong said the program aims to raise spirits and encourage residents to keep a positive outlook during these uncertain times.
“Social connection plays a fundamental role in our mental wellbeing, which is why we are encouraging our community to stay connected with those who have been hit the hardest by the lockdown.
“Woodlea takes pride in our commitment to supporting the local community to live the best life they possibly can, and this is just another example of how simple acts of kindness can create positive outcomes,” Armstrong said.
To support infection control measures, all handwritten letters and drawings are addressed to a zero-contact mailbox at the Woodlea Sales Hub in Aintree, to be emailed, scanned and printed off by staff at the aged-care facilities.
Sutton Park Lifestyle Coordinator Deb Gunn said the new program is a great opportunity for residents to stay connected and will build relationships between all members within the local community.
“With the new program, our residents will not only feel connected during these uncertain times but will also strengthen intergenerational relationships where younger members of the community will learn so much from the older generation,” Gunn said.
A spokesperson from Woodlea Early Education said the program is a great supplement to in-person visits to facilities, which are not possible under the current restrictions.
“Woodlea Early Education decided to become involved in this great initiative because we strongly value teaching our children about community participation and demonstrating care and empathy towards others. This is a great opportunity for the children to think about another person’s perspective and how their actions can help make our world a better place.”
The senior pen pal program builds on a list of community initiatives implemented by Woodlea to support the estate’s long-term vision to become Australia’s healthiest community.
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