Korus Connect’s Community Connector Merrilyn serves residents, staff and families in a regional aged care complex, which has not experienced a COVID-19 outbreak.
Nonetheless, Merrilyn and all aged care staff in the local facility have been trained to operate within the new industry requirements for hygiene and safety, including the integration of PPE clothing and equipment.
Merrilyn shared that the lockdown restrictions have caused a heightened level of loneliness amongst the elderly residents as they grieve their cherished visits from family, friends, pastors and volunteers.
As a paid staff member at the aged care complex, Merrilyn has continued forging social and emotional connections with the aged care community throughout the pandemic. The community has relied on Merrilyn’s role in new ways, because of the lack of family and volunteer visitors. For example, Merrilyn has helped the residents to navigate technology to talk with their loved ones via video calls and has also sat with residents and comforted them, as they journey from this life to the next, given family are not allowed onsite.
In addition, Merrilyn has been conducting a weekly ecumenical Christian faith service as the ‘volunteer’ pastors no longer have access to this facility. Merrilyn said this is a weekly highlight for the residents and she was impressed by the spirit of unity and good will from the service participants, who represented a cross-section of Christian traditions.
Residents have also experienced grief and loss at not being able to travel outside of the facility (unless they have a medical appointment). Sadly, residents who attend medical appointments then need to quarantine for two weeks upon their return – which is a painful physical and emotional isolation for them from their broader community.
That being said, Merrilyn said she also observed an impressive resilience amongst the seniors’ community at the facility. She explained that many residents had survived previous plagues, wars, or even served the nation in a previous war. Therefore, they maintained a stoic confidence and positivity that this too shall pass and that the ‘boom times’ of safety, a flourishing economy, community connections and celebrations will return again in due course.
Indeed, we have much to learn from the wisdom of our elders!