A Victoria University PhD student is writing letters of comfort to the elderly in her community and urging others to join her.

Jerusha Mather, a volunteer at Northern Health in Melbourne’s outer north, said many nursing home residents need more reassurance now that the COVID crisis limits their visitors.

"Social distancing is difficult for most of us, but social isolation is even worse, and hitting some elderly members of our communities hard," she said.

Jerusha devised a campaign to offer them letters of support from the community to let them know they aren’t forgotten.

"Encouraging words of support – even from a stranger – can make life just a little easier and help them get through this."

Northern Health will distribute the letters to neighbourhood nursing homes, including Estia Health, Heritage Care (Epping Gardens), and Northern Health (Palliative Care and Aged Care Network).

Jerusha is passionate about making a difference where it counts. She lives with cerebral palsy, and aims to become a medical doctor. She has lobbied for years to make science and medical training more inclusive to those with a disability.

Her PhD focuses on possible connections between strength training and transcranial direct stimulation that could improve the motor movements of adults with spastic cerebral palsy.

How to get involved

Jerusha is urging anyone who would like to add sunshine to the day of an elderly person to write a letter.

Where: send your letter to [email protected].

When: by Saturday 11 April.

What to include: Jerusha advises writers to acknowledge the fear or distress that elderly residents may be experiencing, and to address the letter to 'Dear Friend.'

"This is a simple but powerful gesture that will mean so much to an appreciative recipient."

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Ann Marie Angebrandt
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