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Scalabrini keeps family in the picture

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Centenarian Italia Bonfill skypes her 71-year-old son Charles. PHOTO: Supplied

Aged care home keeps bonds alive and residents safe

They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks … just don’t tell 101-year-old Italia Bonfill.

The fiercely-independent centenarian, who previously thought Google was something a baby does, has been using the latest technology to keep connected with her family during social distancing rules enforced due to COVID-19 and is loving it.

Skype and FaceTime are now part of her daily routine and she waits patiently for staff at Bexley’s Scalabrini Village to get her online.

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Having lived through wars, moon landings and even nine Popes, she doesn’t always remember why her family aren’t visiting but is filled with joy when she sees them pop up on her computer screen.

Italia doesn’t always remember why her family aren’t visiting but is filled with joy when she sees them

Her 71-year-old son Charles said he can’t wait for the day he can give his mum and kiss and a hug but for now being able to look into his mum’s eyes using technology has been a “godsend”.

He said his “super mum” has had an incredibly tough life and has handled the social distancing measures the same way as she has coped with all of the challenges she has faced throughout  her long life.

“It is very hard for her as she doesn’t always remember why we aren’t visiting but despite that she is always so happy and filled with joy when we talk,” he said.

“Before the pandemic started she was getting a visitor every day and to have that suddenly stop has been very hard not only for her but all of us.

“She has a bit of dementia but is still quite clever. She actually suggested I tell the staff she is not feeling well so she can be taken to hospital and we can visit her there, which made me smile that she is still thinking at her age.

“We understand that because of her advanced years and fragile health that it is in her best interest that we keep our distance but for her it’s a little tougher.

“I honestly can’t think Scalabrini enough for making it possible for mum and the other residents to keep in touch with family during this very difficult time.”

The mother of six, grandmother of 16 and great grandmother of 14 has been living at Scalabrini for about two-and-a-half years, after living on her own until she turned 99.

Outliving two husbands, she had been looking after herself until a couple of falls left her family little choice but to place her in care.

Putting technology to good use has been ‘incredible’

Wellbeing Coordinator Tracey Gill said they were making full use of the technology available to keep all residents and families together particularly during the restrictions due to the coronavirus.

She said the difference in the residents since they started using technology had been incredible.

Using technology gives our residents the chance to see their families and reduce some of the anxiety that they may have about the visits ceasing,” she said. “They can see that they are all ok and gives the families themselves time to explain why they are not coming to visit.

“We are all just putting ourselves in their shoes and asking the question ‘How would I feel?’.”

And if that means doing some extra skypes or FaceTimes no matter what time of the night or day to ease a little anxiety then that’s what we do.”

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