Dec 15, 2021

New gift-giving platform delivers smiles to lonely Australian nursing home residents for Xmas

New gift-giving platform delivers smiles to lonely Australian nursing home residents for Xmas

As aged care facilities around the country prepare for an influx of family and friends throughout the festive period, four out of every ten residents will come to the sad realisation that nobody is coming to see them. 

Currently, a staggering 40 per cent of older Australians living in nursing homes don’t have regular visitors or receive any gifts throughout their entire time in aged care.

With social isolation currently a stark reality in nursing homes, a new project called Connect the 40% aims to connect lonely residents with Australians who want to make a meaningful difference in the life of somebody in need.

Each gift and experience has been matched to individual aged care residents based upon their personal preferences and needs. 

Products range from practical gifts such as interactive companion pets and comfy pillows, through to socially engaging experiences such as art therapy and laughter sessions. Gifts are sent directly to the resident accompanied by a personal message.

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.

Sacred Heart Community’s Lifestyle-Matters Coordinator, Santiago Aznal was in high spirits last week as the Connect the 40% team sat down with residents of the home to discuss which potential gifts and experiences were most to their liking.

“This is such a special initiative. It was fantastic to see our residents’ reactions to having people from outside the home take such an interest in them, and we’re looking forward to introducing our residents to some much-needed experiences and opportunities.”

The Connect the 40% idea came from former aged care nurse and HelloCare CEO Lauren Todorovic, who has a personal connection to Sacred Heart Mission having volunteered there as a Community Visitor and later worked there as a Registered Nurse.

“Having previously volunteered at Sacred Heart Community as a community visitor and worked in a number of aged care homes, I have seen firsthand the positive impact that small gestures can have on the wellbeing of residents,” said Lauren.

In what is a first-of-its-kind project, Connect the 40% will also look to measure the impact of gift-giving on the residents to better understand the impact that experiencing feelings of gratitude has on life satisfaction, optimism and extraversion of seniors living in Australian nursing homes. 

Ms Todorovic concludes: “The positive effects of social connectivity for seniors are well documented. With Connect the 40%, we would like to provide a conduit between lonely nursing home residents and people in the broader community. With the festive season now upon us, there’s no better time to let them know that we care”.

For more information or to donate a gift or experience to an aged care resident, please visit

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  1. We have operated Canberra Aged Care Facility in the ACT for nearly 40 years and on each and every year we have bought and wrapped a present for every resident without fail. There are lots of residents that simply don’t have family and Christmas is just another day but we can make it a little bit better..and if we can do it then everyone can also.
    Of course the massive government funding cuts have made it that bit harder and I understand why many aren’t doing Santa this year. Thanks Scott!

  2. Bravo Lauren. This made me smile & cry. Thank you for doing something to support those who are alone at Christmas. Such a wonderful time of year but so hard for so many.

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