Buddies boost the brightness

Aged care and disability support facilities have been forced to get creative with social activities for their residents amid social distancing restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Brightwater Care Group implemented the Brightwater Buddies program a few weeks ago to allow the community and residents to connect and socialise online, on the phone, and through letters and drawings.

Brightwater Buddies volunteer Jules Stemp says she wanted to take the opportunity to help in this current crisis and thinks it’s important to for people to be connected.

“There are obviously a lot of people out there that don’t have anyone to connect with, so I think that this is a good opportunity to stay connected,” she says.

Ms Stemp says she’s been keeping in contact with her buddy who is in transition care through emails.

“I’ve learned that he enjoys sports, mainly bowls and he just got himself a new puppy.”

Jules Stemp on the responce to the Brightwater Buddies initiative. Video: Johanna Peres.

Geriatric mental health Associate Professor Wendy Li from James Cook University says it’s important to maintain connections with people in aged care because isolation can create uncertainty.

“Isolation is one of the contributing factors of depression and anxiety as well particularly for some people within the context of COVID-19 and lockdown as well,” she says.

Life in aged care without regular visitors can be very lonely. Photo: supplied.

“The pandemic lockdown has a very long-term impact on people’s mental health.

“Even when all the restrictions are lifted, people may still live in lockdown conditions mentally and physically.”

Associate Professor Li also says fortunately during this time people have created lots of resources for older people online.

“For example, people have created online choirs, musical programs and even stretching programs to help people get physically active.

“However they will still need help from other groups as well as aged care services.”