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Student performances uplift the elderly nationwide

May 8, 2020

Student performances uplift the elderly nationwide

Residents of Radius Matua are among the care homes enjoying the videos. Photo:Ben Mollison

Students are joining together in filming performances and leaving rest-home residents amazed across the country during lockdown.

The organiser, 21-year-old Victoria University psychology student Cara Adler said she got the idea after hearing an emotional director-general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, express his condolences following Covid-19-related deaths at Rosewood rest home.

“I just felt really devastated for them and really helpless because usually when it’s any other kind of disaster you can kind of go out in person and do stuff and help, but you can’t do that this time.

“I felt desperate to do something,” Ms Adler said.

The mainly university student performers send in video recordings of songs, poetry, and other creative arts which aim to both entertain and alleviate anxiety for several hundred isolated elderly and the essential workers caring for them.

“The whole role of diversional therapists is to organise activities for the residents and that’s very hard for them to do when they can’t get anyone in, so they’re hugely grateful and quite relieved to have some of that weight lifted off their own shoulders,” said Ms Adler.

Klara Rulisek, a diversional therapist for Radius Care in Matua, Tauranga, said the videos have been a huge help for staff and have surprised residents who are touched by students’ contributions.

The variety of performances is bringing in new and usually inaccessible talent to the rest home, she said.

“We had quite a long discussion about how it’s actually being done,” said Ms Rulisek.

“We had quite a few people sort of saying, ‘Oh, that’s very nice of them, that they’d do this for us when they’re in a lockdown’.”

Residents are being reached throughout Wellington, Auckland, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Christchurch, and Blenheim, with more rest homes being included regularly.

Kassandra Wang, a 19-year-old student who studies a Bachelor of Music in Wellington is using her passion for singing to send support.

Even before Level 4, she would visit local rest homes with choirs and chamber groups.

“Any sort of distraction is good and it’s nice to feel supported - having people thinking of you and all that is in itself moral support,” she said.

The uplifting nature of content being submitted, such as music and poetry, all “takes you out of this world for a little bit”.

“[It] makes people think that there’s more than this current situation.”

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