How Ananda Aged Care is combatting senior loneliness during this festive season!

It’s a busy time of the year. Many of us are frantically trying to finish up work so we can enjoy some down time over the Christmas holidays, we are shopping for gifts, we are celebrating at end of year functions. It can be easy to forget our seniors, who may be feeling isolated or left out, even more so this year than previous years due to the pandemic restrictions.

We encourage Australians everywhere to check on your senior neighbours. Especially if they are living alone, it’s a good idea to check in with them to ensure they are ok, particularly on the much warmer days when they are susceptible to heat stroke.

Connection with others is vital to the overall health and wellbeing of older people. There are many ways we can support older people to stay connected, to help them avoid the significant health risks posed by the impact of loneliness.

The Altaira team recently interviewed Preeya Goel, who is the Director of Wellness and Ancillary Services for our clients Ananda Aged Care, to hear all about what her organisation have organised for their Residents during the festive period and initiatives to combat elder loneliness.

What is Ananda Aged Care doing for their Residents during the festive period to ensure they are not feeling left out?

2020 has been a challenging year and our group at Ananda Aged Care have worked hard to ensure that our Residents remain connected during these unprecedented times. We have organised Christmas themed booklets full of activities and games for the residents to enjoy in small groups. Our trees our decorated and displayed in the garden areas. We have organised for both of our sites to have internal Christmas functions which include a concert and a special festive lunch.

How has the pandemic impacted your Christmas celebrations for your Residents this year?

The pandemic has meant that loved ones are unable to join our community Christmas function onsite for the first time in Ananda history, so to help alleviate the sadness of this we are encouraging families to book in for smaller private functions that can be held with their loved ones onsite during the month of December.  We have also had to separate the two sides of our Hope Valley site and ensure that the common areas are spread out to ensure we are keeping our Residents as safe as possible. We have altered our usual function buffet menu to be in “Ananda Festive Boxes” so that each Resident has their own personal boxes filled with the Chef’s selection of goodies. We are also launching our Summer Menu earlier than usual. This new menu is celebrated onsite with tastings, discussion groups and it is always something our Residents look forward to.

Like many other organisations, we are embracing virtual events. We have been showing our residents all the wonderful live stream events that are available online, such as Church services, the recent Adelaide Christmas Pageant, the recent flower expo, and Christmas lights.

To help combat loneliness we have always maintained that we have been open for all families and friends and we never completely locked down until the most recent “circuit breaker” forced lockdown. With increased safety measures in place, our Residents are able to enjoy visits from their loved ones through a booking system and an entry checklist questionnaire. For those who are interstate, overseas or unable to visit we have continued to host “Virtual Visits” via Facetime and Skype. We created a concept named “Messages of Love” where families can call in or email messages that are delivered to their loved one – nothing better than receiving mail from someone you care about! We have also created some games and quizzes completed via Skype between our two sites to ensure that our wider community at Ananda can connect. The creation of “Ananda TV” has been wonderful to allow for photos, quizzes and music to be available 24/7 in each room for the Residents to enjoy.

What advice do you have for families who have loved ones within aged care during the festive period?

My advice for families is to check in with your loved ones. If it isn’t safe to visit or you are unwell, don’t despair, as there are so many other meaningful ways to connect and show that you care.

It is also important to note that the Clinicians and Healthcare providers are all working tirelessly to ensure that our community is safe and that sometimes the decisions may not be popular or seem fair but they are needed at this time. We must remember that we all have the same united goal and that is to ensure our residents are safe. Make use of the amazing technology that is available and remember to continue to practise hand hygiene, social distancing and stay up to date of the latest information from SA Health because our vulnerable Ananda Family rely on us all to do the right thing.

Thank you Preeya for providing us insight into these innovative initiatives that Ananda has implemented for their residents!

So, a reminder to check in with your elderly loved ones! Whether they are at home, or residing in aged care, we are sure they would appreciate a video call or a visit. Make the time; kindness is free.