28,000 people sign up to 'adopt a grandparent' via video chats

Last year, CHD Living – a group of 16 care homes in Surrey – asked people to sign up to a scheme where they’d ‘adopt a grandparent’, keeping the elderly people in their properties company if they didn’t have anyone to visit them.

This year, in the wake of COVID-19, the scheme has taken a very different turn, but the response has been even better than before.

As elderly people have been asked to self-isolate due to coronavirus, bosses at CHD decided to keep the scheme on, but ask people if they could spare some time to video chat with their residents instead.

It’s been a huge success, with 28,000 people around the world signing up to volunteer from the ages of one to 76.

‘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.’

Shaleeza says the uptake in the scheme has been ‘overwhelming’ and that ‘there aren’t enough words to express’ how happy she is that people want to join in.

‘A lot of the messages we’re getting are very heartwarming and some are very emotional,” continued Shaleeza.

‘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. The positive impact to everybody has been astounding really.’

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.

From there, there are introductory sessions to ensure the volunteers and their adopted grandparents get on, and each call is overseen by a supervisor.

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.

One of the silver linings to come from this horrible pandemic is the kindness that we’ve seen people showing to their fellow man, and hopefully this scheme will result in a number of friendships that might not have existed otherwise.

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