A care home is inviting people to “adopt a grandparent” by holding video calls with its residents during the coronavirus lockdown.
CHD Living, which has 16 care facilities in Surrey, has run a similar scheme since last year, encouraging local people to spend time with their residents in person.
But now face-to-face visits are no longer possible, the company has decided to take it online.
“The idea behind it was to promote inter-generational communication and the relationship between children and older people, which is very valuable,” said Shaleeza Hasham, head of hospitality, communications and commissioning for CHD Living.
“By taking it digital, we felt it was so valuable to relieve potential feelings of isolation and loneliness.”
The scheme has already been a huge success, with 28,000 people around the world signing up to volunteer from the ages of one to 76.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Ms Hasham said. “There aren’t enough words to express.”
Volunteers are asked to complete a short questionnaire about their likes and dislikes, allowing residents to choose who they feel they might get on with.
There are introductory sessions to ensure the volunteers and their adopted grandparents get on, and each call is overseen by a supervisor.
And staff are finding that volunteers are getting as much out of the sessions as the residents.
“A lot of the messages we’re getting are very heartwarming and some are very emotional,” said Ms Hasham. “You see a lot of people who might say ‘I lost my grandparents’, or indeed ‘I lost my parents’, or I never met my grandparents’.
“It’s filling a void.
In an effort to fight the Covid-19 crisis, we've added a digital twist to our 'Adopt a Grandparent' campaign!— CHDLIVING (@CHDliving) March 24, 2020
We're looking for virtual volunteers to get on board and adopt one of our residents. 😊
To find out more and get involved, please sign up here. https://t.co/Ua82R3QQEV pic.twitter.com/PFTRJrfUFB
“The positive impact to everybody has been astounding really.”
Staff hope that once the pandemic has passed and it is safe to do so, as many of the volunteers as possible will visit their adopted grandparent in person.
And they are also looking into widening the scheme to include other care homes across the country and even around the world.