Christmas can be lonely for those in aged-care facilities, but an innovative program run by a Benalla business owner is putting a smile back on the faces of many residents.
The ‘‘Adopt-A-Grandparent’’ program has been run by Benalla’s Lisa Linke for the past three years and has been so successful that it is now being run in towns across Victoria.
‘‘My nan used to be at Cooinda and I just wanted to do something to give back to the oldies as I know that quite often Christmas is a sad time for a lot of them,’’ Ms Linke said.
‘‘Many them don’t get any visitors, or if they do it’s very rare.
‘‘The staff at those places are amazing, but it’s always nice to have an outside visitor come in.
‘‘I just thought it would be nice to give something back to the community and it was something I was able to involve my kids in.’’
The program involves taking donations from the public, which Lisa then uses to buy shea butter hand creams, which are in turn given as gifts to the ‘‘adopted’’ grandparents.
‘‘I keep a track of who’s donated, then after I purchase all the creams I get the list of names and match them up to a resident,’’ Ms Linke said.
‘‘Each resident gets a personalised card from the person who donated their gift.
‘‘Then I get back to the people who donated and let them know the name of their grandparent for the year.’’
The program was initially run in partnership with Cooinda Aged Care, however, in recent years Lisa has also worked with Estia and Morrie Evans.
Lisa said the feedback she received from the aged care facilities had been amazing.
‘‘They seem to really like it because I go around with my kids and my mum comes along as well,’’ she said.
‘‘They dress up and put their Santa hats on and the oldies just love it.
‘‘They love a visit and especially love seeing the kids.
‘‘The community also love it, I get so many beautiful message back.
‘‘But I’m just the instigator, it’s the community that’s doing the giving. I just put the two together.
‘‘The program has grown each year. When I started off with just Cooinda, there was 85 grandparents adopted.
‘‘Now the target is more than 170. So far this year we’ve reached 130, but I’m very determined to get to 170.
‘‘I have teams doing it in other areas as well, so it’s really taken hold. I’ve got a team in Wangaratta who do it and I had a girl who did Violet Town last year.’’
●If you are interested in adopting a grandparent this year you can phone Lisa on 0447148400 or email [email protected]
●For more information, visit the Adopt-A-Grandparent page on Facebook.