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Beautiful story of King's Lynn care home residents swapping letters with residents in New Zealand CHT Aged Care facility in Waiuku



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Lynn care home residents have been swapping postcards with pen pals on the other side of the world for the last year.

Postcards and letters from Lynn have been arriving at a New Zealand elderly facility.

Monica and Jo writing a letter to New Zealand (53294166)
Monica and Jo writing a letter to New Zealand (53294166)

This heart-warming union between the homes was made possible by two co-co-ordinators who are sisters in law.

Residents from Kings Lynn Residential Care home, and CHT Aged Care facility in Waiuku, New Zealand have been sharing letters and post cards.

Jo Taylor who is the activities co-ordinator at Kings Lynn Residential home contacted her sister-in-law Sarah Smith who is also an activities co-ordinator at CHT Aged Care facility in Waiuku, New Zealand.

Marion with a postcard from NZ (53294186)
Marion with a postcard from NZ (53294186)

They decided a pen pal scheme would really lift the spirits of the residents in both homes if they were to receive letters from one and other.Ms Smith said:"Our residents have not been able to visit with family and friends in the normal way during the pandemic and both ladies could see how this was impacting negatively on their wellbeing."

Ms Taylor said:“We were delighted to receive our letters from CHT Waiuku, Our residents asked me to read them in a group setting at one of our reminiscence afternoons.

Jo and Sarah, two sisters in law who made this possible (53294178)
Jo and Sarah, two sisters in law who made this possible (53294178)

"The first letter that I read told us about Waiuku as a home which our residents found interesting, leading on to them asking questions about life in New Zealand.

"We sent back beautiful postcards of the Norfolk Coast lines and Sandringham House along with photos of each resident who wrote one.

"Since we started being pen-pals with our lovely new friends on the other side of the world it has put a smile on Residents faces, it has helped to reduce feeling of loneliness, and promoted wellbeing within our resident group.

A resident reads a letter from a long distance friend (53294181)
A resident reads a letter from a long distance friend (53294181)

We all look forward to receiving letters, hearing all about what life is like in New Zealand and we now have new friends.”

Ms Smith said the residents in Zew Zealand were "so exited to get the letters".

The arrival of the Delta strain of coronavirus plunged Zew Zealand into a long lockdown.

The elderly facility in NZ (53294169)
The elderly facility in NZ (53294169)

She said:“When our pen pal friendships began the UK were in a big lockdown due to Covid 19.

"Our residents wrote and introduced themselves and sent their best wishes to keep safe in the difficult times that our UK friends were experiencing.

"Little did we know that a few weeks later we would also be in a long lockdown when Delta finally arrived at our shores.

Jo Taylor, coordinator at King's Lynn care home (53294175)
Jo Taylor, coordinator at King's Lynn care home (53294175)

"Letters arrived from the UK from our new friends how excited we were to receive these beautiful postcards and hear their news.

"Each of the letters was read out to the residents. We had to read them a few times to really take it all in.

"Pure delight and amazement crossed their faces as they listened to the stories of people with similar life experiences.

"From a Diversional Therapy point of view, letter writing encourages dexterity; handwriting practice; memory recall, reminiscing and fills the need for companionship. The ability to hold a pen can be difficult for some so this is an enormous achievement for some to write their own letters.”

Margaret Ward, Manager of CHT Waiuku said. “Most of our residents here and in the UK have experienced similar things, war, hard times, illness and grief. Who would have thought at the age of 99 or 100, they would be making new friendships across the miles? We are learning more about our residents as we discover new stories to be told. How wonderful this is.”



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