While there is no doubt that a number of things can diminish when a person ages, the desire to have meaningful experiences and feel valued is not one of them.
Launched just days before Christmas in 2021, the aged care gift-giving platform, Connect the 40% has made a number of wishes come true for aged care residents.
St Kilda’s Sacred Heart Community – which houses a large number of seniors that have experienced homelessness and trauma – was among the first of many nursing homes looking to get involved in the nationwide program.
And thanks to the kindness of a stranger who visited the Connect the 40% website and purchased a gift experience, two residents from Sacred Heart Community who were wanting to watch an AFL game at the MCG recently had their wish fulfilled.
Upon arriving at Sacred Heart Community early on a Saturday afternoon, Connect the 40% staff were greeted by residents Graham and Norm who were eagerly awaiting their opportunity to watch AFL teams Sydney and Essendon battle it out on the hallowed MCG terrain.
The short drive from Sacred Heart Community to the MCG was filled with typical football banter between the two residents and their chaperones, and lifelong Sydney Swans supporter, Graham, was confident that his team would secure the victory.
After parking the van and making the trek to the second level of the ground, the two gentlemen appeared overwhelmed at the sight of the MCG bathed in some unseasonal sunshine.
Remarkably, 78-year-old Norm revealed that the last time that he visited the MCG was in 1956 when his father took a then 12-year-old Norm to see the Olympics after a long train ride in from the Warnambool region of Victoria.
Sydney Swans supporter, Graham, was also thrilled to see that former Sydney Swan champion Micheal O’Loughlin was seated just in front of him, and the kind star was more than happy to take a picture with Graham.
As the siren bellowed to mark the start of the game, the gentleman enjoyed the typical culinary delights of the football including pies, coca-cola and some hot chips.
The game was an enthralling contest from start to finish, with Sydney jumping out to an early lead that was quickly reeled in by the Bombers with both teams going goal-for-goal in the second and third terms.
“Don’t get too excited,’ yelled Graham after Essendon fans cheered a timely goal. “We will fix your little red wagon!”
Unfortunately for Sydney supporter Graham, Essendon snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in the dying minutes of the final quarter, but he conceded that they had deserved the victory after the thrilling contest.
After a day filled with laughter, sunshine and the thrills of a hard-fought contest, Graham and Norm returned home to Sacred Heart Community happy and humbled by the experiences shared on a big day out.
What is Connect the 40%?
To put it simply, Connect the 40% is an online platform that makes it easy for members of the general public to purchase gifts and experiences for lonely seniors living in Australian nursing homes.
The Connect the 40% site is populated with individual profiles of Australian aged care residents.
Each profile contains information about who that resident is, and which gift or experience they would be interested in receiving.
Visitors to the site have the opportunity to read each individual resident’s profile and can then purchase their desired gift or opportunity – along with a personalised message to let them know who you are and that you care.
These gifts and experiences are then delivered to that resident, resulting in some of the most moving reactions imaginable.
Connect the 40% is the brainchild of HelloCare CEO and founder, Lauren Todorovic, who spent this past Christmas handing out gifts to aged care residents who were in need that were purchased by strangers who visited the Connect the 40% website.
“The response was nothing short of amazing,” said Lauren.
The name ‘Connect the 40%’ is derived from the sad fact that 40% of aged care residents don’t receive any visitors.
Although nothing can replace meaningful interactions with a family member or loved one, the feelings of gratitude and acknowledgment that come after receiving a gift are positive and clearly evident.
“Gift experiences like art therapy, laughter yoga and animal interactions are extremely popular with aged care residents,” shared Lauren.
“Over 40 gifts and experiences were paid for by generous members of the public across the Christmas period, but Connect the 40% operates all year round, and we are hoping to hear from aged care providers all over the country right now.”
Can you help?
With the festive season now well and truly behind us, Connect the 40% is calling upon all Australian aged care providers, potential partners and product suppliers to help us ensure that these opportunities can occur on a more frequent basis, all year round.
Every aged care home in Australia has residents that are in need of a boost, particularly when you consider what many have been forced to endure over the last two years.
Connect the 40% would like to hear from any and all providers who are interested in getting involved. It costs nothing, but it can mean everything to a resident in need.
Secondly, Connect the 40% would love to hear from any business that provides gifts, services or experiences that may be relevant to seniors living in aged care.
Please don’t let the age bracket fool you – tattoos, skydiving and helicopter rides have already been inquired about by residents.
Connect the 40% also encourages aged care staff to nominate and share the names of any performers, experiences or gifts that they have witnessed have a profound effect on the happiness of their beloved residents.
Visit https://www.connectthe40.com/ to purchase a gift or experience for an aged care resident in need, today.