Penpal scheme set up in Cork to encourage communication with nursing home residents during pandemic

Penpal scheme set up in Cork to encourage communication with nursing home residents during pandemic

Inspired by the success of a similar national initiative, Tara Thornton from Innishannon has established ‘Penpal Cork’.

A Cork woman has set up a local ‘penpal’ scheme in a bid to connect younger and older generations in the county who are feeling the impact of prolonged Covid-19 restrictions.

Inspired by the success of a similar national initiative, Tara Thornton from Innishannon has established ‘Penpal Cork’.

With many older people feeling the impact of level 5 restrictions isolation, Ms Thornton decided to establish a way for those in nursing homes and long-term care facilities across Cork to feel more connected, while also providing a new project to those who have more time on their hands.

In just three days, Ms Thornton has received over 250 emails from people interested in both taking part in the project and introducing it to older family members or people they know who have been struggling during isolation.

She said that people of all ages have expressed interest in the project, including a lot of nurses and care assistants who have seen the impact of Covid-19 on older generations.

In addition, a number of nursing homes across Cork have also come on board with the initiative.

“My goal originally was very simple, it was just even if I had 200 people that wanted to ‘penpal’ up with someone in a nursing home, that’s 200 people in a nursing home that would be delighted to get a letter every week,” said Ms Thorton.

However, with so much interest already, she is now aiming to ensure everyone who would like the company of a penpal, has the opportunity to take part.

“My goal now really is to get everyone in Cork that is either in a long-term residential care of a nursing home ‘penpal'd’ up if they want to so that everyone has the option.

“Cork is a great place and there are great people out there that want to support people in nursing homes that are struggling at the moment,” she added.

For more information or to sign up to Penpal Cork, email penpalcork@gmail.com.

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