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Novel replacement for live rest home entertainment

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Young people are recording themselves singing, dancing and reading poetry to cheer up rest home residents who are unable to have live entertainment visits because of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Making the recordings of entertainment that cross lockdown boundaries is also proving therapeutic for the performers.

Psychology student, Cara Adler, felt devastated after watching a television update about the Rosewood Rest Home Covid-19 cluster in Christchurch and how the lockdown meant dying residents could not have family or friends with them during their final hours.

She read an article about a man in a Kāpiti Coast rest home who suffered panic attacks during the lockdown. After being offered sedation, he slipped into a coma and died while listening to songs and his favourite psalms.

She was particularly concerned for rest home residents who were part of a Covid-19 cluster or suffering anxiety over a higher risk of falling sick.

Cara felt powerless to help until she came up with the idea that young people could make short recordings of themselves to be sent to the homes as entertainment.

“It must be so weird for them not having anyone coming in,” she says.

Hated feeling helpless

Cara, a Victoria University of Wellington student, who returned to her Auckland family home for lockdown, says she hated feeling helpless.

So, she gathered a few performer friends and created a Facebook group to get the ball rolling. Soon there were 20 in the group and after they added their friends, more than 80.

Cara says that after she started doing something, the feeling of disconnect caused by the lockdown began to lift for her. She says her friends had the same experience.

After they had made the initial recordings, Cara offered them initially to the Rosewood Rest Home, the St Margaret’s Rest Home coast rest home covie-19at Te Atatū (it also had a Covid-19 cluster) and a Kāpiti Coast home she had read about.

Amazing response

After the initial contacts, Cara said she put out the call on Facebook for anyone with rest home contacts and received an amazing response.

This confirmed the lockdown had created a gap in rest home entertainment that the homes’ recreation officers usually met by inviting community groups to visit.

Each participant in the lockdown entertainment project is asked to include a self-introduction at the beginning of the video which they record on their phone or device.

Entertainment has including singing and reading poetry.

Elvis and The Beatles requested

Cara said there have been special requests from residents for their favourite songs, especially Elvis, The Beatles and New Zealand numbers.There were also some collaborative entertainment efforts.

Below: Jackson sings an old Elvis Presley favourite.

A class at the New Zealand School of Music at Victoria University recorded Pokarekare Ana and the Christchurch Boys’ Choir sang In Flanders Fields.These were done individually.

Each performer sang or played their own part in a piece of music, while listening to a recording of everyone else playing their parts. The leaders of their groups then put the individual videos together.

Other contributions included a young woman reciting sonnets from Shakespeare, an interactive quiz (with gaps for those watching to decide on their answers), and one young woman spoke about spending a year in Canada and what it meant to her.

Cara recorded several pieces too, singing with, and without, her guitar and in collaboration with her musician sister.

Could become permanent

As for the future, several rest homes’ diversional therapists are keen to make the project a permanent part of entertainment for their seniors.

“They have said that it is nice being able to play the videos in their own time … the people in my group are very much enjoying being part of the project and are keen to carry it on for as long as is requested,” Cara says.

A diversional therapist also suggested Cara contact children’s hospitals around New Zealand, as they would have the same issue of no visitors and were missing entertainment from community groups.

Cara says they can easily make videos of songs and performances suitable for children.

Rest homes who have not received a call from Cara, and would like to see the project’s videos, they should email [email protected]. She is also keen to hear from potential entertainers.

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