Western students create site to stay in touch with seniors
LONDON, ONT. -- Three Western University science students started an initiative called Stay In Touch that helps deliver videos, pictures, and letters to senior citizens who are currently in isolation.
Mathew Shammas-Toma, Mila Huhtala and Soroush Nedaie were inspired to create the website from their own experiences with isolation.
“We tend to forget that a lot of these elders in these homes are spending most of their day either at home or they are retired," says Huhtala. "I think when we started doing this social distancing act we found out it’s quite hard."
Shammas-Toma, who has worked with the elderly in the past, says seniors look forward to visits, but with the dangers of COVID-19, that's just not a safe possibility for them right now.
"There’s no visitors allowed for these seniors and there is also restrictions being placed on the caring staff for the seniors. So they are seeing less of these caring staff who they may have some special connection to as well. So what we are trying to do is just increase their connection."
Tamara Nelson, coordinator of Volunteers and Recreation Services from the Alzheimer Society London and Middlesex, describes the mindset of a senior during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"For seniors right now they are feeling lonely and isolated…seniors with Alzheimer's are having a hard time as well…so are care partners who [are] explaining to their loved ones why they are in their home and not able to go out into the public."
The co-founders of Stay in Touch are encouraging people in the community to showcase their talents to seniors in order to brighten their day.
"We had two sisters reading this beautiful book to the seniors and they seemed like they were having a lot of fun," says Nedaie, “the parents got involved too with filming… it's great for the family,"
Other submissions feature magic tricks, drawings, and even letters.
So far Stay in Touch has received over 20 submissions that they are sharing with seniors across London.
The goal of this initiative is to bring the community together safely during a time of isolation, "Through people’s thoughtful, creative work or messages," says Huhtala.