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‘Hello Nan and Pop’ activity pack keeps grandparents and grandkids connected.

Peter Aebersold and grandkids - Hello Nan & Pop activity pack_crop.jpg

At times like this, the importance of keeping in touch with family and loved ones cannot be understated – particularly for older people.

With social distancing, border closures and other protective measures preventing face-to-face contact, Bolton Clarke retirement village residents have turned to technology to keep the connections alive.

Peter and Carmen Abersold, who live at Bolton Clarke’s Fernhill retirement village in Caboolture, were early adopters of technology as a way to keep in touch.

When Bolton Clarke introduced it’s new “Hello Nan and Pop” activity pack as a support for virtual visits they jumped at the chance to have a fun way to connect with Sydney-based grandkids Sonja, 12, and Ivan, 9.

The downloadable activity pack is designed to keep children and grandparents – or great-grandparents – connected using a collection of fun activities displayed or completed together using video calling technology. Activities include colouring in, create a finger puppet show, letter writing and an interview activity which provides questions for children to ‘become a reporter for a day’ and find out more about their grandparents’ lives and family history.

Peter says technology – and the activity resource - have been integral to keeping the family connected during the crisis.

“We don’t all live together in the same suburb or city, so it’s been good to connect via tech,” he said. “It’s not perfect but it’s better than just talking on the phone. We’re not just talking but actually seeing.”

The devoted grandparents regularly send out care packages for their grandkids, and their last package included the “Hello Nan and Pop” pack.

“After they received it, we did a Facetime call and they were showing us what they had done,” said Peter. “They’ve done the finger-puppet show, and some colouring in – and they plan to do the interview your grandparent reporting activity next.”

Peter’s grandkids are equally enthusiastic.

Nine-year-old Ivan said he liked the finger puppets best – and his older sister agreed.

“I really like the colouring-in and the finger puppets were very cool,” said Sonja. “It would be cool to have an origami activity too!”

Their father, Paul said technology made it easier to stay connected and the activity pack helped to keep the conversation flowing.

Peter said the activities and video calling made interactions more memorable and easier while socially distanced.

“We get to participate in their lives and got into using technology early on for that reason – it makes it a lot more personal and involves us in their lives more than we otherwise would be able.”

“Now we love our weekly video calls. Their parents send us pictures and videos too.”

In Victoria, Bolton Clarke teams have been promoting the activity pack for families of At Home Support clients while restrictions on contact with children remain in place for many older people.

 Policy Operations Coordinator Sharon McNeil introduced the pack to her extended family.

“My great niece Chloe had heaps of fun,” she said. “It’s a great resource to support social connection and share activities when you cannot meet up in person. She loves doing colouring in with her grandma and great-grandma.”

Bolton Clarke is working to add an origami activity based on Sonja’s request. The Hello Nan and Pop activity pack is available for download here: