Liam, 6, chats with his nana via FaceTime. His mom, Erica Kerry, has launched a program that aims to connect other kids with seniors in retirement communities and care homes, to reduce the impacts of isolation and loneliness. (Contributed photo)

South Surrey-based pen-pal program aims to reduce seniors’ isolation during pandemic

South Surrey/White Rock concierge service to connects kids & seniors virtually

An inter-generational pen-pal program has launched, aiming to take the edge off of the loneliness and sense of isolation that seniors in care homes and retirement communities may be feeling during the pandemic.

The Grand-Friends Pen Pal Program is an initiative of Erica Kerry of Renewed Living, a concierge service for seniors that began last fall to help seniors in South Surrey/White Rock who are looking to transition to a senior-living community.

READ MORE: Senior concierge service launched in South Surrey/White Rock

The pen-pal program, Kerry explained in a news release, will connect kids and seniors via email and video chat.

“This pandemic has affected kids as well; they have closed all schools indefinitely,” Kerry said. “Therefore, kids of all ages are sitting at home feeling isolated themselves (and probably driving their parents crazy).

“So I saw this as an opportunity to not only bring the two generations together, but also create companionship along the way.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, retirement communities and long-term care facilities are taking measures to help keep their residents safe and healthy, including limiting visitors to essential circumstances, limiting programming and having all meals eaten in residents’ suites.

Those measures are not expected to end anytime soon, according to B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Minister of Health Adrian Dix.

Dix said Tuesday (March 31) there is “zero chance” of provincial health orders around the pandemic being lifted this month, and little to no chance that’ll change in May, “or in the immediate weeks after that.”

READ MORE: B.C. records five new COVID-19 deaths, ‘zero chance’ life will return to normal in April

Kerry said while social distancing is important during this time, it can have a detrimental impact on everyone’s mental well-being, especially seniors.

The pen-pal program aims to help alleviate those impacts, she said.

Kerry described video chats as “a great tool” that will enable kids and seniors who participate in the pen-pal program to do things like bake or do a craft “together,” read to each other and more.

The goal, she added, is that when the pandemic subsides, the Grand-Friends will be able to meet in person and continue their relationship.

Kerry said several local retirement communities have already signed up to participate, kids are responding and she’s even heard from some adults who want to help.

To get involved, or for more information, contact Kerry at 604-312-2530 or erica@discoverrenewedliving.com



tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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