In 2019, a woman who heads hospitality and communications at a nursing home in England wanted to find a way to get more people in the community to visit residents and mingle with them. Her idea has turned into something far bigger than she could’ve ever imagined.
“I wanted other people to experience the value in learning from older people, because they have so much to share and so much life experience,” Shaleeza Hasham told “Good Morning America.”
“I think it’s a very, very valuable thing for people to be involved with.”
That October, Shaleeza Hasham launched “Adopt a Grandparent.” Now, the program has made its virtual launch amid the coronavirus pandemic, and what started as 130 locals going to the nursing home and visiting with residents has now grown bigger than she anticipated.
“We had no idea it would create the movement it did across the world,” she told “Good Morning America.”
The facility reported it’s had more than 67,000 volunteers sign up for the virtual program in the past three weeks since the virtual program launched. There’s now a waitlist.
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Shelagh had an amazing first phone call with her adopted grandchild, do you recognise her?! 😉 Thank you so much for joining us in our combat to encourage companionship and tackle loneliness @bitsietulloch, we can't wait to see your pairing develop. 😄 #CHDLiving #CreatingHappinessDaily #AdoptAGrandparent #Love #Happy #CareUK #CareHomesUK #CombatLoneliness
While the program has been a great source for companionship and support for the elderly residents, Hasham said it’s also been beneficial for volunteers.
"The primary goal was really for the older person, (but) what we found is the benefits for everybody involved are quite phenomenal,” Hasham said.
Despite the fact that there is now a waitlist at Hasham’s facility, she’s still encouraging anyone who is interested to sign up and put themselves on the list.
She’s also said her group care home is attempting to get other facilities around the world to expand the program.
Hasham encouraged everyone around the world to consider older people who might be isolated at care facilities because of COVID-19, and perhaps send them cards, letters or flowers.
“This really is cross-generational, and it’s about providing support, companionship and sort of building relationships that we hope will be sustained far past what is happening right now with coronavirus,” Hasham said.