English-speakers from across the world can apply online to become virtual volunteers who engage with their assigned grandparents through regular video calls.
The novel Coronavirus spreading across the world has had a devastating impact on mankind in a number of aspects. Apart from testing the limits of our healthcare systems, it has sent the economy into a steep free fall and overturned the lives of the billions currently in lockdown all over the globe. Moreover, with governments instructing citizens to self-quarantine themselves in their homes until the pandemic is brought under control, widespread loneliness has become yet another thing to worry about. The elderly, in particular, are feeling the brunt of long-term isolation as nursing homes and assisted living communities have shut their doors to the outside world.
Older people are especially vulnerable to loneliness & social isolation during the #COVID19 pandemic.@ITU has tips on how to help the elderly get online so they can feel better connected with their families & friends during the #coronavirus crisis. https://t.co/bhGnyACGew pic.twitter.com/SCLX6rZlHD— United Nations (@UN) March 24, 2020
With the aim of keeping the elderly safe from the risk of infection, many facilities no longer allow their residents to congregate in groups, have visitors, or leave the building. They've been forced to take these extreme measures since individuals who are 65 and older, those who are immunocompromised, and those who have preexisting conditions are said to be most vulnerable to COVID-19. However, these preventative measures have left many old age home residents feeling lonelier than ever which in turn could have an impact on their physical health as well.
If you are healthy and able to, please check in on your elderly neighbors or family members. Help buy some groceries. Give them a call to brighten their day. Isolation can lead to depression, which is why it’s critical we help feed their souls any way we can.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) March 17, 2020
According to PEOPLE, one nursing home in the UK has now come up with a campaign to combat the sadness caused by isolation. The "Adopt a Grandparent" campaign launched by CHD Living—a nursing home company with 13 locations near London—invites people across the world to virtually "adopt" an elderly resident. English-speakers from across the world can apply online to become virtual volunteers who will then engage with their assigned grandparents through regular video calls. These calls are meant to build companionship and keep the adoptees mentally stimulated while they are unable to have their loved ones visit them.
In an effort to fight the Covid-19 crisis, we've added a digital twist to our 'Adopt a Grandparent' campaign!— CHDLIVING (@CHDliving) March 24, 2020
We're looking for virtual volunteers to get on board and adopt one of our residents. 😊
To find out more and get involved, please sign up here. https://t.co/Ua82R3QQEV pic.twitter.com/PFTRJrfUFB
Those interested can also send drawings, letters, and poetry to brighten residents' days, reports The Independent. CHD Living hopes to get as many children as possible involved in the initiative during current school closures. The company reportedly ran a similar version of the campaign last year, during which people from the community were asked to come in and spend time with residents in person. However, given the current circumstances, they've tweaked the campaign to facilitate safe social distancing. "The nature of care means that we’re looking after some of the most vulnerable members of society at the moment," said Shaleeza Hasham—Head of Hospitality, Communications & Commissioning at CHD—in a press release.
"It’s a worrying time and we’re taking the threat of coronavirus incredibly seriously, putting stringent processes and protocols in place to protect our residents as much as possible," Hasham added. "We are however keen to keep spirits in the homes high and so have been thinking of ways that we can continue to enrich the lives of our residents whilst providing them with stimulation and companionship. It made sense at this time to digitize the Adopt a Grandparent campaign and to recruit further volunteers who might like to help keep our residents company over the coming weeks."
Each CHD nursing home has a Facebook Portal TV to facilitate video calls with virtual volunteers and employees will be on hand to help residents use the technology. Those interested in volunteering can apply via a form on the CHD website. The company has already seen a great response to the Adopt a Grandparent campaign, receiving 36 new sign-ups in March alone. "The recent increase in registrations is really great to see. It’s clear that the public are looking for rewarding ways in which to fill their time and we know our residents will be delighted to start building these relationships," Hasham explained.