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National Pen-Pal Service Launched To Help Elderly Stay Connected In Isolation

A nationwide pen-pal program is being launched from Tuesday, encouraging Aussies in isolation to write to the elderly to lift their spirits.

The covid-19 outbreak has given rise to loneliness and isolation in older Australians as they're being strongly encouraged to stay at home to protect themselves from the virus.

To combat these symptoms, care provider 'Home Instead Senior Care' is launching an electronic pen-pal program to more than 40 franchises across the country.

The program aims to connect members of the public with elderly Australians who are in aged care facilities or in their own homes.

A letter sent by a couple from Sydney's Bondi Beach. Image: Supplied

"I think there is a great need for community relations during this time, particularly with our most vulnerable," Home Instead's Karen Buckley told 10 daily.

This is about kindness and joy, and making these people still feel like valuable members of the community.

Buckley said the idea for the program started when a local business offered to deliver toilet paper to elderly people in Sydney.

The gesture sparked interest on Facebook page 'Viral Kindness Eastern Suburbs', prompting a surge of donations and notes that were printed off and delivered to residents of Regis Aged Care Rose Bay.

"We trialled it locally in the eastern suburbs and within a few days, we got 20 cards, notes or emails," Buckley said.

Marlene recently received a pen-pal letter. Image: Supplied

From Thursday a new Facebook page and website will be launched for people who want to be a pen-pal -- participants can register as a sender or receiver.

Buckley said the public can also send an email directly, or scan and attach a handwritten letter, which carers will print and share to the elderly in their care.

"If there is a response, they will scan it and send it on accordingly," she said.

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Buckley has worked in the aged care sector and said she hopes the program will help vulnerable elderly Australians maintain a sense of connectedness during the pandemic.

"Loneliness is emerging as big a threat as dementia for our vulnerable, elderly people," she said.

"This crisis we are facing brings home the fact they’re even more limited in terms of community connectedness. They could be quite well but the social isolation -- though warranted -- is another barrier to them retaining that sense of community."

Buckley hopes the project will also help those who are currently restricted from visiting their loved ones during the pandemic.

To register as a pen-pal click here.