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‘Social isolation’ inspires community consolidation

26 June 2020

We have witnessed a once- in-100-year occurrence with the outbreak of COVID-19.

For generations born after World War II (WWII), this is a daunting time, which has ‘pressed pause’ on life as we know it.

To gain some perspective during these unprecedented days, weeks and months, society finds itself turn- ing to our older generations who experienced hardship during the Great Depression and WWII. It’s from stories from their past where we may find some guidance now.

For the aged care sector and its elderly residents, the term ‘social dis-ancing’ has meant even greater restrictions again than those imposed on the general public. Caring responsibly for a demographic identified as most at risk means enforcing stricter rules and regulations to ensure that the safety of residents is never com- promised.

Positively speaking, Australia is succeeding in its fight to beat the curve of coronavirus and remains committed to protecting every one of our citizens properly. The social isolation and distancing measures are working well with a reduction in new daily cases, as well as positive recovery rates.

At Banfields Aged Care, the past few weeks have seen the local Cowes (Philip Island) community truly embrace them – metaphorically speaking of course!

When Lifestyle Manager, Robyn Montague, placed a message on the community notice board about the Banfields’ Pen Pals programme the response was overwhelming!

It’s actually an ‘E-Pen Pal’ initia-tive (to minimise contamination) and schools, community organisations and individuals can email Banfields residents via a lifestyle team member who will then assist the resident with their response back to the original author… and so on.

“The response couldn’t be any more encouraging,” said Robyn.

“I knew we had a beautiful commu-nity here on Philip Island, however, even I could not have anticipated this much interest and genuine support!” Banfields Aged Care residents are now regular ‘Pen Pals’ with three lo- cal schools, various members of the larger Cowes community as well as PICCAL Community Centre who has helped coordinate further ‘Pals’ as well.

Most recently, a women’s business group based in Melbourne has also volunteered its services, broaden- ing the communication to even more ‘Pals’ in the big smoke! It appears so- cial isolation is inspiring many people from every walk of life to reach out more than we’ve ever done before.

In yet another display of strong community consolidation, all local churches of various denominations are conducting their sermons via letters to keep in touch with their parishioners. Banfields Aged Care residents are top of their mailing list, giving them spiritual guidance when it’s needed the most.

Banfields residents are in safe hands with a team which is committed to minimising the impact of COVID-19, ensuring their quality of life isn’t compromised, regardless of the situation.

‘Flexibility’ has been key and some of the innovative ideas coming from both inside the facility as well as out in the broader community have been truly inspiring.

Those residents at Banfields who experienced wartime could probably at- test to the strength of the human spirit. However, we are witnessing it right now with a community which is really consolidating itself around those of its members who need it most.

Banfields Aged Care is taking a proactive approach in regards to its services rather than being reactive to each stage.

Lara Basso, Director of Care, ex- plained: “At Banfields, we were al- ready well prepared, as we keep our facility’s sanitisation standards at the highest levels regardless. The additional precautions are not a major challenge for us, but I am proud of my team’s ongoing dedication nonetheless.

“What we have been doing is planning for additional restrictions by organising Fun Bags for our residents filled with problem-solving games, creative challenges and other intellectual stimuli. We are ready!”
The world is changing at the moment and we are challenged by something previously unforeseen.

However, if we listen closely to the stories from the older generations, we’ll learn that by unifying as a community and working towards positive solutions, we can make it through together.

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