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The Pen Pal Program Connecting Aged Care Residents

Pen Pal program keeps aged care residents connected through written acts of kindness 

To provide some additional support to aged care residents during COVID-19, PETstock team members around the country have offered their penmanship to forge new friendships with seniors at Arcare.

The 12-week pen pal program, led by PETstock was introduced in June to make a positive difference to the lives of the elderly residents. Some of the residents from Arcare Maroochydore shared their thoughts with us, including 
Ron Schmidt, 97 years old (lead image):
"I was chuffed - in other words, very excited". This letter reminded me that "I used to have a puppy dog named Rags. He was a small white dog, very huggable!".
"I’ve always had dogs in my family." We lived in the suburbs and had fancy dogs, poodles.
When I see these photos, I just think about my past pets. We loved our dogs." 
Helen Mateer (left), 72 years old.

Di East (right), 73 years old added:
"I felt really good [receiving these letters], I’ve always had dogs at the sheep station. We had four dogs; two of them were Labradors. There was this one dog that always stayed with me and I remember a time when the dog was barking at something and when I went closer, I saw that it was a snake! The dog knew and he was trying to protect me!"

The program has given both residents and staff a little something extra to look forward to and has since become a highlight, not just for Arcare, but for PETstock as well, with several of its team members eager to keep the program ongoing. 

PETstock Assist Charity and Events Coordinator, Jessica Guilfoyle, says these simple acts of kindness can offer such an enormous sense of joy and comfort to seniors in care.

“As we navigate these unprecedented times, it’s important to remember aged care residents need support from people in their communities, so we’ve created this program to help keep residents socially connected to those outside their home.

“By sharing stories of family history, favourite hobbies, funny moments with pets or challenging each other with crossword puzzles, participating PETstock team members are hoping to help residents overcome any feelings of loneliness they may have felt over recent months, while forming new friendships in the process.” 

Arcare CEO Colin Singh says he’s delighted PETstock has chosen to partner with Arcare for its pen pal program. 

“Our residents love receiving letters from members of the community as it helps them stay connected. They look forward to hearing about others’ lives, and in return sharing their own stories and even drops of wisdom. 

“We have been meeting as a community on a fortnightly basis to go through all the letters sent in from the PETstock team. We constantly have the same residents coming back each time, as they have been excited to hear how everyone has been going,” Arcare Cheltenham Lifestyle coordinator, Susan Hogan said.

84-year-old Arcare Cheltenham resident, Lydie Bunting (above) has particularly enjoyed reading the letters from PETstock team member, Kate. 

I’ve have enjoyed reading and listening to the letters that Kate has written us. She seems like a very lucky person and has a good life, as she is able to do exciting things, such as hiking and holidaying around the world”, Lydie said.

“We hope many long-standing friendships will form as a result.” concluded Colin Singh.

MEDIA RELEASE, 21st August 2020

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