Letters ignite new community connections

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Right: Shirley is enjoying the Pen Pal project through Home Instead. (Photo supplied)

Esther Lauaki

Suzy and Shirl are bonded by a shared love of television and gardening, and Home Instead Senior Care Geelong’s new program keeping residents connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pen Pal project encourages the community to write to a senior and create lasting friendships.

Home Instead Senior Care Geelong owner and director Giovanni Siano said the program was launched as a way to ward off feelings of isolation.

“The wellbeing of seniors is so important right now,” Giovanni says.

“But with social distancing and self-isolation in place, it’s hard to know how you can help.

“By sharing your messages, we can allow seniors to feel connected with their community and overcome any feelings of loneliness or isolation they may be experiencing.

“These messages are simple gestures of kindness that will make a senior’s day.

“Even from your dining room table, you can make a positive difference.”

The Pen Pals project is accessible for all seniors living at home, as well as residents of aged care facilities who are unable to have visitors during the COVID-19 event.

“To get involved all you need to do is record or write a hopeful message or get creative by sharing a favourite poem or a funny story,” Giovanni says.

In a letter to Shirl, Geelong’s Suzy Dascarellos said cooking, reading and watching television were some of her favourite pastimes.

“I love the idea of old-fashioned letter writing,” Suzy wrote.

“I am enjoying watching autumn take hold and I hope you can see a beautiful garden where you are.”

Shirl replied with stories of her family and a book she recommended.

“I think it’s a great idea to communicate in this way,” she said.

“I do miss being in my garden but I have wonderful gardeners who keep everything looking great.”

The program is open to everyone and writing templates are available for kids too.

Messages posted through an online portal are then delivered by Home Instead Senior Care for optimum privacy and safety.

“These wonderful messages between the community and seniors provide a connection to their community during this time of social isolation,” Giovanni said.

“We are hoping to join the community and seniors together, building new friendships along the way.”

Home Instead Senior Care Geelong, Office 4, 194 Pakington Street, Geelong West.
Inquiries: 5201 9090 
email penpals@hiscgeelong.com.au or visit 
www.homeinstead.com.au/penpals.

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