While necessary for the well-being of the residents of New South Wales, this current extended lockdown has meant an increase in social isolation among our vulnerable seniors and people with a disability.
During the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020, our ‘Beehivers’ were unable to enter the premises for over 11 weeks. During that time, we noted a marked deterioration in their mental and physical wellbeing. Nevertheless, Beehive continued providing its service users with a regular food parcel drop-off scheme and worked with KPMG to set up a telephone service, where volunteers would call our Beehivers to make wellness checks and provide some much-needed social interaction.
Once again, during this month-long lockdown, Beehive has been working hard to ensure that our service users are still provided for with regular food parcel drop-offs and keeping abreast of their wellbeing.
Given the results of last year’s Royal Commission into Aged Care Facilities and the current Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability. It is imperative that we as a society pay extra attention to caring for these vulnerable communities.
This issue is not isolated to New South Wales, or even Australia. Last year, similar tragedies arose in numerous European countries. In Italy and Spain, many elderly people in care homes were abandoned in care homes only to be discovered by emergency services after they had already passed away. Likewise, recent experiences have shown us that the global pandemic left people with disability with even less accessibility and sometimes, their priorities were often ‘sent to the back of the line’.
It has often been said, a society is measured by how it cares for its vulnerable people. In many nations, respect, piety and a deep consideration for one’s elders is often a cultural norm. Nevertheless, be it a cultural imperative or not, all modern societies should prioritise caring for our at risk people, including our seniors and people with disability as well.
At Beehive, we noted the difficulties of adjusting and understanding modern technology. Many of our Beehivers struggled with simple online functions, such as logging in with QR codes or even learning to download apps. As a result, we have been working hard on providing a customized learning platform to assist our users to develop the digital literacy skills needed to overcome social isolation.
The launch of our cookbook, Share a Meal, Share a Conversation is one such example. Its primary intention is to teach readers how to utilize video chat technology such as Zoom to keep in touch with friends and loved ones. The recipes provided act as a fun and interactive conversation starter that can be shared across the digital divide.
Early this year, we trialled an ‘online conversation’ with Master Chef All-Star Kumar Pereira, who shared his cooking expertise and engaged in online conversation with viewers at a City of Sydney Seniors Centre.
Click here to watch the session.
Beehive is currently working on expanding this learning platform to provide additional digital literacy skills to our Beehivers and to others in the community who struggle with learning modern technology. The platform will be tailor made to their learning and language skills.
If you know of any socially isolated loved ones that would like to learn to use video-conferencing, and would enjoy learning to cook easy, cheap and nutritious meals, please download our free cookbook and get a conversation started.
You can also view a flip through version of our cookbook here.