At Willard Home in Palmerston North, residents’ strong desire to give back to the community has inspired a whole host of projects.
Every Wednesday, for instance, the resident baking group whips up fudge, shortbread and all manner of sugary delights for parents, caregivers and children to enjoy at the Children’s Ward at Palmerston North Hospital.
“Stuff that keeps a little bit longer, like slices and biscuits, are really practical and delicious!” says home manager, Christine Tester.
Since June, several elders at the home have also been busy writing letters to pen pals from all over the region. Christine notes that volunteers get as much joy from the experience as do the residents.
“We have one pen pal who lives on a distant farm, so she wouldn’t be able to volunteer in person. But she is able to go to town to post her letter once a week. Another is an international student who is keen to meet the locals but doesn’t have the time to physically volunteer while studying.”
The two-way cycle of giving and receiving care is an important part of the Enliven philosophy, which aims to make sure elders have companionship, fun, variety, choice and meaningful activity in their lives.
“The opportunity to both give and receive care is important. It’s not all about asking for help and donations – the elders here are also contributing members of the community and are always looking for ways to give back.”
Apart from baked goods, residents also sell hand-made crafts and other items at their on-site shop, which has become quite the social hub for residents and volunteers.
“It’s amazing what you can learn from elders just by sitting and having a chat,” Christine says.
“They have all lived such interesting lives and it’s a privilege to hear them share their wisdom and knowledge.”