AdventCare thanks staff amid Melbourne lockdown

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An assortment of gifts included in the Wellbeing Bags.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown in greater Melbourne, AdventCare Victoria thanked their 230 staff members with gift bags packed and decorated by the aged-care residents, and including messages of gratitude from residents’ families. The “Wellbeing Bags” were built around Live More Happy by Dr Darren Morton. The Pocket Edition was included in each bag, with healthy snacks, healthy recipe cards from Food As Medicine, gratitude prompt cards and a note of encouragement—with a roll of toilet paper.

During nine weeks of COVID-19 restrictions, family, friends and volunteers have been unable to visit residents and more than 400 “Stay In Touch” visits—through windows or via Zoom—have been facilitated by AdventCare’s Chaplaincy and Lifestyle team.

“The stress for frontline staff, in what is already a high-pressure environment, has been immense,” says AdventCare chaplain Pastor Nalissa Maberly. “The Wellbeing Bags were designed as a boost for each staff member, to remind them to take care of themselves and offer them ideas on how to do so.”

Packing the Wellbeing Bags: (from left) Ruby Wareham and Orlean O’Connor, residents of AdventCare Whitehorse.

Pastor Maberly says that seeing residents take part in preparing the bags was gratifying. “One of the residents who has had a stroke, struggles to write, yet she was determined to do as many bags as possible,” she reports. “With great effort she shakily wrote ‘thank you’ and decorated 20 bags. At AdventCare Whitehorse, two of the Adventist residents assisted with packing the bags—it would have been a struggle to get it done without them.”

Many staff members responded positively: “The mood has shifted, everyone is lighter and more energetic.” On reading the “Words from Families”, one staff member said that she would “have to stop now and read the rest at home. I can’t stop crying, it’s so lovely.”

Another recipient reflected that “I’ve worked here 10 years and never been thanked in such a meaningful way. Everything in the bag had a purpose, loved that the residents were involved.”

AdventCare Victoria cares for a total of 180 residents at their Whitehorse and Yarra Ranges (Warburton) facilities. “This project has highlighted the importance of regular affirmation, to hear from families, residents and management,” says Pastor Maberly.