You’re never too old to make new friends – just ask the Gold Coast aged care residents who are Skyping their counterparts in Japan as part of an innovative new Ozcare program bringing cultures together.
Each month, more and more residents of Ozanam Villa Aged Care Facility in Burleigh Heads join the session to sing songs, read poetry, and delight in learning about Japanese culture.
Resident Jill Gibson is one of the biggest supporters in the program, even becoming involved in helping residents from other wings join in.
“This is such a wonderful program and we are truly very enthusiastic about the monthly video conference with our new friends in Japan,” Jill said.
“We have lots of question to ask about their culture, they have so much history and tradition. We hope to teach them about our wonderful country as well.
“It's exciting to plan the sessions each month and see lots of residents come together with true interest, both counties put in so much work it's inspiring.”
Ozcare diversional therapist Michele Roche is the mastermind behind the program, and says she came up with the idea after looking for ways to tie in seniors’ interest in new technology with new activities.
“Cultural diversity is obviously very important in today's world and we don’t see why our seniors should miss out on the benefits of inclusiveness now that technology allows us to connect with anyone in the world from the comfort of our armchairs,” Michele said.
“We got in touch with Alice House Aged Care Residence in Nagoya and within a few days we had arranged the first meet-up.
“All of us immediately saw the program would go a long way in promoting friendship and better understanding between the two cultures.”
The one hour sessions each month include a welcome from each side, a song of the month, general conversation, and a display topic of interest chosen for a discussion.
“Seeing the looks on everyone’s faces when we shares songs and poetry is really special,” Michele said.
“Both groups have been particularly eager to show off the artworks that have been created over countless hours. I think it gives all of us some extra inspiration and motivation for our art sessions and music sessions, and sparked a number of new activities that a lot of residents are getting involved in.”
The Australian residents have even started a culture club to learn basic Japanese phrases that the residents can surprise their new friends with.
“So far we’ve learnt ‘watashi wa Norma desu’, which means ‘my name is Norma’ and ‘hajime mashite’ which means ‘nice to meet you’,” said resident Norma.
“I’m quite excited to say it to them and see how they react!”