A care home group in England, which took its "Adopt a Grandparent" program virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic, has received an influx of virtual volunteers from across the globe.
Over 67,000 volunteers signed up for the virtual "Adopt a Grandparent" program over the last three weeks, according to the facility, and there’s a waitlist.
"We had no idea that it would create the kind of movement it did across the world," said Shaleeza Hasham, the Head of Hospitality, Communications & Commissioning at CHD Living.
Hasham launched the "Adopt a Grandparent" program in October 2019 hoping people in the community would visit the care facilities and mingle with the residents.
"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," Hasham told "GMA." "I think it’s a very, very valuable thing for people to be involved with."
Hasaham said the program started with 130 locals who would come into the nursing home and visit, but when COVID-19 prevented the home from welcoming visitors, they made the program virtual.
Adopted grandparent and grandchild matches are chosen from all over the world by the staff based on common interests.
One nursing home resident, 88-year-old Rosie, was matched with a woman who works as a nanny in Hawaii named Annette.
"She lives in Hawaii and she calls me every now and again and she’s lovely," Rosie said. "We talk about life, she was interested in how I lived and everything and I was interested in how she lived."
While the “Adopt a Grandparent” program has provided companionship and support for the elderly residents of the care facilities, it’s also been a beneficial program for volunteers.
"The primary goal was really for the older person," Hasham noted, but, "what we found is the benefits for everybody involved are quite phenomenal."
With thousands signed up to be volunteers and only a few hundred residents, Hasham said her group care home is reaching out to other facilities from around the world hoping to expand the program.
Hasaham encourages anyone who is interested to continue to sign up and place themselves on the waiting list.
Hasham hopes that the relationships made in this program will go beyond the coronavirus pandemic and encourages people from all over the world to send cards, letters and flowers to care facilities where older people may be isolated due to COVID-19.
"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.