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Aged care residents keeping connected through COVID isolation


11 July 2020 at 8:00 am
Luke Michael
Australia's aged care community have found some quirky ways to keep their spirits up 


Luke Michael | 11 July 2020 at 8:00 am


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Aged care residents keeping connected through COVID isolation
11 July 2020 at 8:00 am

Australia’s aged care community have found some quirky ways to keep their spirits up 

Coronavirus-imposed social isolation is tough, especially for aged care residents. But some senior citizens have found new and creative ways to keep connected during the pandemic. 

Bolton Clarke last week announced the winners of its inaugural innovation tournament, which focused on projects supporting social connection among its residential and retirement living communities.

The winning initiatives were a ginger beer brewing and bottling project and a “hole in the wall” café.

Bolton Clarke’s head of research, Judy Lowthian, said they wanted to create a space for residents to generate and share ideas to keep people connected. 

“An innovation tournament is a fun and engaging way of enabling residents and employees to work together towards a common goal,” Lowthian said.

A panel of residential aged care and retirement living managers and Bolton Clarke Research Institute researchers selected the top 10 projects, which then filmed a two-minute video pitch. 

The two winners were voted by employees across the organisation.     

Bolton Old Boys Brewery brings back memories 

The first winning entry came from Bolton Clarke’s Macquarie View residential aged care community.

The “Bolton Old Boys Brewery” allows residents the chance to relax with mates while drinking some refreshing non-alcoholic ginger beer.

Bolton Clarke diversional therapist Colleen Bruce said the idea came from the residents themselves, adding there were now around 20 enthusiastic brewers helping out.

“Six of them have done home brewing before so it’s a real treat to be able to revisit a much-loved pastime and show off old skills,” Bruce said. 

“We are taking it in turns to make batches in small groups. It’s been great to be collaborative while social distancing.

“It has given everyone a sense of accomplishment and purpose – even our local brewing shop is invested in our idea!”

Resident Shirley Hancock said the process brought back many treasured memories.

“When I was young, my mum used to make ginger beer and ice cream together. I couldn’t get home from school quick enough to get some!” Hancock said.

Fixing a hole where the social isolation gets in

The other winning entry was the “Hole in the Wall” café at Bolton Clarke’s Broadwater Gardens retirement village in Port Macquarie.

This café allows residents ­– who usually enjoy their monthly coffee club in the village clubhouse – to get their caffeine fix outside in smaller groups.

Resident Carol Cosgriff said this was allowing the community to stay connected.

“The Hole in the Wall café has allowed us to see our neighbours and share morning tea – we can all join in with each other,” Cosgriff said.

“Being able to come anytime has meant I’ve caught up with different people in the village.

“Ending up here after a walk is very pleasant – It’s great to see people sitting in the fresh air, having a coffee and a chat.” 

The project has been so successful that village manager Allison Purdy – who leads the initiative – has added some themed days, including lunchtime hot dogs on a Wednesday. 

“We were all missing our monthly coffee club and happy hours, and to have nothing was awful, but the Hole in the Wall café has lifted everyone’s spirits,” resident Jill Chambers said.


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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