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Students create program to help the elderly socialize during the Covid-19 pandemic

Shared by Ana Ribeiro on 2020-06-27 18:23

About the solution

During the Covid-19 pandemic, residents of nursing homes or assisted-living facilities could no longer receive visitations form their loves-ones, a measure put in place to protect them from being infected by the new coronavirus. To help combat the feelings of loneliness and isolation of this elderly population, a group of students from Stanford University started a project called “Virtual Park Bench”.

The original idea came from Dan Guo, who wanted to recreate the idea of park benches, that often provide spontaneous socialization for the senior community. He gather a team of volunteers willing to participate and developed a program that matches residents of nursing homes with volunteers and arranges video calls between them. The pairs are matched taking into consideration interest, backgrounds, time commitment and even linguistic preference, as many elderly do not have English as their first language.

“We strive for long-term relationships between residents and volunteers. Although we make the initial connection, these relationships blossom and grow on their own”, explained the creator of the project.

The program has already gathered more than 70 volunteers and partnered with 10 care facilities in California, providing companionship to over 50 seniors. They are in touch with other facilities around the country, looking to expand this program to reach more people.

“It’s really heartwarming when the residents introduce me as their ‘friend’ to the doctors and nurses that come to check on them during our conversations,” one of the volunteers says about the experience.

Adapted from: https://www.stanforddaily.com/2020/05/29/students-video-call-seniors-to-...

More info: https://www.virtualparkbench.org/

This solution shall not include mention to the use of drugs, chemicals or biologicals (including food); invasive devices; offensive, commercial or inherently dangerous content. This solution was not medically validated. Proceed with caution! If you have any doubts, please consult with a health professional.

About the author

Dan Guo created "Virtual Park Bench", a platform that allows volunteers to have video conference calls with elderly residents of nursing homes or assisted-care facilities. The project was created during the Covid-19 pandemic, as a way to help minimize the feeling of loneliness and isolations of the residents, who were not allowed to receive visitations during that time.

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