Home Instead plays Santa to spread festive joy and reduce isolation for older Australians 

From Christmas Day phone calls and gift hampers to carols, concerts and delivering more than 15,000 Christmas cards decorated by kids to Aussie seniors, national in-home care provider Home Instead is playing Santa to combat loneliness and social isolation. 

“We know two of the biggest threats to wellbeing as we age are social isolation and loss of independence,” Home Instead Australia CEO Kris Whitehead said.  

“It’s incredibly important for the seniors in our community to feel cared for, included and supported all year round, and even more so at Christmas. This is why we’re organising festive events and initiatives around the country to reduce social isolation.” 

Playing Santa comes naturally for the relationship-based organisation, which provides in-home care for seniors across Australia and is one of the largest home-care providers globally. 

“Our focus is always on the needs of our clients, and the meaningful care and companionship we offer is even more important at this time of year,” Mr Whitehead said.  

“One of Home Instead’s Christmas initiatives is our Be a Santa to a Senior program where we provide Christmas cards for local school children to personalise with a message to an older person. This has been running for close to 10 years and this year we will be distributing 15,000 cards across the country to older people in our communities,” Mr Whitehead said.

“This year, joy is really on the menu as we proudly team up with Meals on Wheels™ Australia to help us deliver the cards to seniors around the country, including at some of their Christmas lunches. Collaborations like this help us to reach more people who need that all-important social connection.” 

“We know intergenerational contact is immensely rewarding for both older people and children,” said Paul Sadler, Chair of Meals on Wheels™ Australia. 

“We can ensure isolated older people right around the nation experience that companionship, through our network of meals on wheels services reaching older people across Australia.” 

The video below showcases some of the amazing cards that have been created as part of this initiative with their recipients.

Participating Home Instead offices around Australia are connecting with seniors and delivering the Christmas cards in various ways, including:  

  • At intergenerational Christmas parties or morning teas with Santa, ukeleles, and student choirs in retirement villages, residential care facilities and Seniors groups. 
  • Giving the cards to shoppers in local shopping centres, as school choirs sing. 
  • Geriatric wards in local hospitals. 
  • At a local Computer Pals Christmas meal. 
  • At a Meals on Wheels Community Restaurant with a local Scout group handing out the cards. 
  • At independent living facilities with a morning tea to help people navigate the aged care system. 
  • With Meals on Wheels delivery services. 
  • Calls on Christmas Day and special hampers in some areas. 

 It’s really heart-warming to see the happy interactions the seniors have, especially with the students,” Mr Whitehead said. 

He said at any time of year, “A small gesture can make a big difference – simply helping with groceries, taking the time to have a chat or providing help at home can go a long way to improving wellbeing and eliminating feelings of loneliness and isolation.