More than 72,000 people around the world have signed up for a new, digital ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ scheme to help beat loneliness.
CHD Living also plans to develop an app to help facilitate and manage the pairing process after providing seed funding to get the project this far.
It’s now appealing for public support to help get the initiative off the ground as it opens up Adopt a Grandparent to other care homes across the world.
Adopt a Grandparent is designed to combat loneliness and encourage companionship by digitally connecting the public with care home residents to help them form meaningful, intergenerational friendships.
The campaign was initially launched last Autumn and looked for local volunteers to physically visit CHD Living’s care homes in Surrey and South London to meet and bond with residents.
But given the ongoing coronavirus crisis and the current restrictions on movement, the group decided to take the campaign digital – aiming to harness video technology to spread the message further and encourage connections from anywhere in the world.
The call for ‘virtual volunteers’ has been met with an astonishing response, with 72,000 people signing up within three weeks from all over the world including from the US, Canada, Dubai, New Zealand and more – far more than the care home group could possibly look to pair up.
Shaleeza Hasham, Head of Hospitality, Communications & Commissioning at CHD Living, said: “We’ve been absolutely astounded by the sensational response to our campaign!
“It’s been a complete whirlwind the past few weeks, but one that’s brought in much needed positivity at an incredibly testing time for the care industry.
“Some of the messages we’ve been receiving have been so lovely, and we’ve been pairing up people, facilitating video calls and encouraging communication; the start of which has been extremely heart-warming.
“By raising the funds to develop the app, we can get people involved far more quickly, helping to ensure all of the necessary admin and safeguarding procedures are undertaken swiftly and speeding up the process of connecting those in need.
“Given we’re currently in the midst of combatting the coronavirus pandemic, our resources are dedicated to ensuring our homes are well equipped with everything necessary to contain the virus.
“Consequently, we’re asking the public for help in developing the app.
“In addition to the app, we also don’t want to restrict this initiative to just our homes. We have just over 800 care recipients, so you can appreciate 72,000 is more than enough to keep them company!
“Now we’d like to take the next step and embrace a larger community, connecting our wonderful volunteers with residents in other care homes that might like to partner with us on this project.”
As the campaign continues to grow, the care home group has been contemplating necessary next steps to ensure that those who have expressed an interest in the scheme can be assigned someone to keep company, and have decided to embrace technology by developing an official ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ app, which will safely pair participating care home residents with volunteers and facilitate safe video communication.
To make this happen, CHD Living is currently in the process of registering the ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ scheme with the charity commission as a social, not-for-profit enterprise, which will run independently to the group itself.
The group is asking for public support in fundraising to launch the charity, as well as for the development of the app and the forming of partnerships with other care providers, enabling as many residents as possible across the globe to participate in the programme.
Shaleeza concludes: “To know there are so many people out there wanting to offer companionship to our service users is so moving.
“Whether receiving care because they are older, living with dementia, recovering from injuries or suffering with ill mental health, we have seen it make such a difference to the wellbeing of our residents.
“What started as a small-scale scheme designed to connect the local community to our homes has transformed into a global movement, and we want to keep the momentum going in the hopes that this initiative will long outlast the current Coronavirus crisis.
“We hope the British public will continue to support us in our cause to combat loneliness, and we are so appreciative of any donations received that will help make this happen”.
Person Centred Software, a UK technology company and developers of an app-based Mobile Care Monitoring system that allows care home staff to digitally record the care of residents as it is given, has kickstarted CHD Living’s fundraising with an initial donation of £5k.
Director and co-founder Jonathan Papworth explains: “At Person Centred Software, we are always looking for innovative new ways to improve the health and social care sectors.
“We love the work that CHD Living has done with their ‘Adopt a Grandparent’ campaign and, fully appreciating the positive impact that it’s had on the lives of their residents and volunteers alike, it’s a cause we wanted to get behind.
“We look forward to seeing how the initiative develops and for the wider community to start feeling the benefits of the programme.”
Care homes interested in joining the scheme can register their interest by visiting https://chdliving.co.uk/careproviders-aag-form
Members of the public who are interested in enrolling in the scheme can register interest via https://chdliving.co.uk/adopt-grandparent.