If there’s one thing 2020 has taught us, it’s how quickly isolated and vulnerable our older members of society are. Covid devastated so many care homes, but the residents who were left faced the even greater challenge of making it through the long months with no real contact with their families, aside from video chats or phone calls.
Enter the Nursing Home Card Project (NHCP), a delightfully quirky idea created by Rachel Bennett, whose own mother lived in a nursing home for six years. Bennett, who is based in New York, decided to ask people and their families to write personalised, hand-written and drawn cards and to send them to various nursing homes. The cards show the recipient that they are cared about and not forgotten, providing a valuable personal touch in these harried times.
The response has been fantastic, with hundreds of cards made and sent. With sentiments such as ‘Dear special person, you are loved and cared for!’ and ‘Take heart, we are all thinking of you!’ the cards are a uniquely touching piece of communication for older people. Many people of all ages have taken part in the NHCP, and though the project started in the States Bennett is keen that the movement carries on all over the world, wherever there are isolated and lonely residents in care homes. She suggests, though, that you phone your chosen home ahead of time to explain that you will be sending the cards, so they don’t inadvertently get thrown away.
Bennett hopes that the project will live on well after the Covid crisis is over. ‘The reality is that we will all get old at some point,’ she said. ‘I think it’s important to remember that everything we do, I think, will also be done to us. So just be the person that we’d want to be around us.’