Letter writing and phone calls helped stave off loneliness during lockdowns

News & Events

Letter writing and phone calls helped stave off loneliness during lockdowns

May 4, 2021

Research has shown that letter writing and phone calls between volunteers and aged care residents helped to stave off loneliness during lockdowns in 2020.

Liscombe House residents have been taking part in Befriendas, a face-to-face program linking Befriendas volunteers with residents led by the National Ageing Research Institute. The aim of the program is to learn more about the impact of befriending on depression, anxiety and loneliness for older residents in aged care.

Last year, the program switched from face-to-face conversations to remote options, with mixed results including hearing impairments hindering phone calls and digital technology not always easy to use.

A highlight according to the latest research findings was letters between volunteers and residents. Volunteers interviewed as part of the research talked about the joy they received by writing a letter to the resident or receiving one in return.

This finding is supported by OCAV’s initiated pen pal Keeping in Touch program which continues.

“What the research has shown is that volunteers have provided valuable support for residents living with social isolation during lockdown,” Kim D’Angelis, OCAV’s Volunteer Coordinator, said.

“It has also provided us with insights into how best to provide social support in the Nevertheless, the new research has shown that the chance to have a ‘friend’ during lockdown was better than having no contact at all.

Kim said that an important learning has been tailor communications to individual residents.

“Not everyone wants to use Skype or FaceTime, preferring a phone call or text messages,” she said.

Another crucial learning was the importance of a volunteer ‘knowing’ their befriendee before lockdown, and this applied equally to friends or family members.

“Some people found it hard to prompt a conversation and fell back on their memories of the different items in residents’ rooms whether it was a photo or a vase,” Kim said.

This study was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

 

Keith White, who had heart surgery two years ago, reckons he’s better now than he has ever been. He puts his state of health and well-being down to the life he has found at Currie Park, OCAV’s village in Euroa.

Enquire today about securing a position at one of Melbourne's longest established and highly reputable independent living estates.

Enquire Now