The BASScare community has wide open arms this Christmas – indeed, any time of the year – for those wanting to be a part of something special.
Lightening the Christmas Load
Christmas is inextricably tied to gift-giving and dangerously indulgent feasts, activities centred around gatherings of our nearest and dearest.
It’s estimated that 60 per cent of Australians struggle with loneliness, and the struggle is greatest at the pointy end of the year. As Janet Crago, Community Engagement Manager for BASScare, says, ‘Christmas can be a very lonely and isolating time for people … and it can be a very stressful time of the year where everyone seems to be getting into the Christmas spirit’.
But for older people Christmas can be especially challenging; limited ability for independent travel can lead to isolation even for those who have strong family ties.
BASScare is well aware of this, and we put a lot of effort into creating a real sense of belonging throughout the Christmas period.
Bringing the festive spirit to older people
BASScare runs Christmas functions prior to December 25, and encourage all in the community to come along, and bring a friend or neighbour too. There is, of course, traditional Christmas fare laid out, with Santa booked to make an appearance. For those with limited mobility, BASScare even provides a bus service. No one need miss out.
All BASScare locations run Christmas functions for clients and their families, who are encouraged to attend. Faversham House itself holds three such events. Carols are sung and various craft workshops are held with Christmas-themed handiwork. There’s also the Faversham Kiosk, which Janet says has no small number of tasty treats around Christmas time that the clients can purchase and gift to family and friends. The very act of giving is a powerful tonic to feelings of isolation, even if it’s only to a neighbour on the same floor.
The ‘Pop In’ is Always Welcome
Janet points out that everything BASScare does around the festive season is designed to mimic their clients’ own past activities. ‘It’s all about doing what you would do in your own home on Christmas day’.
To this end, says Janet, ‘we would really encourage family to come on Christmas morning and open presents and share those moments with a loved one who’s a resident at Faversham House’. This isn’t only a balm for the loved one; all the clients love seeing children opening their presents and running about with excitement and happiness.
Family are also welcome to stay for the special Faversham Christmas lunch. In fact, any community-member can book themselves in for the lunch on December 25, and bring a friend or family member too.
For Janet and the rest of the staff at BASScare, the Christmas period is special for other reasons, too. ‘It’s a really nice time of the year just to pause, and take those moments to sit and have a chat. To enjoy a bit of downtime, as well, with the client and their carers’.
Look out for each other
Christmas is irrevocably tied to all those activities that require a community. It’s a wonderful time if you are fortunate enough to be a part of one, but altogether isolating for many of us who aren’t.
Often, it isn’t easy to tell who might be affected this way. It could well be those who come across as gregarious and independent, those who seem to have wide social circles. Fortunately, fostering inclusion is not hard. A lot of the time, picking up the phone is all that’s needed; regularly touching base goes a long way to keeping those triggers at bay.
If you know someone who may be feeling isolated this festive season, encourage them to come along to one of our Christmas events, we’ll make sure Santa saves them a special treat or two.