Letters make connections

Pic of 2-year-old Liam. Photo by Damjan Janevski. 209049_05

Ewen McRae

Bridging the generation gap in isolation can be a tricky exercise, but one western community is making it happen.

Residents in the Woodlea estate in Rockbank have launched a senior pen pal program, encouraging children and residents of the community to engage with residents of local aged care and retirement facilities to alleviate loneliness and help people stay connected.

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 pen pal program, residents across both facilities have signed up to take part, as well as kindergarten students from Woodlea Early Education.

Sutton Park lifestyle co-ordinator 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,” Ms Gunn said.

In order 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.

A spokesperson from Woodlea Early Education said the program is a great supplement to in-person visits to facilities, which are not possible under current restrictions.

“We strongly value teaching our children about community participation and demonstrating care and empathy towards others,” they said.

“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.”

Ewen McRae