Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust, a community organisation for the seniors of the Kiwi Indian and the Asian community, has ramped up all its services to a digital platform encouraging the seniors to participate in combating the discomfort of the Alert Level 4 lockdown in the country.

In an announcement made by the government last week, services for older people were deemed into the list of essential services, and Shanti Niwas falls under that category providing services to the senior citizens of the Asian community in Auckland.

On any typical week of the year, senior citizens of the Indian community divided into different groups at Shanti Niwas' five different centres in Auckland perform and participate in various activities to engage themselves and spend the leisure time of their retirement with one another.

Due to the lockdown in effect from Thursday, March 26, and several announcements regarding the danger of the Covid-19 pandemic in New Zealand, especially on the elderlies of the community, Shanti Niwas suspended all the activities of the senior citizens.

"We were aware of the dangers that Covid-19 poses for our senior citizens at least a week or two before the number started spiking in New Zealand and so were kept all our community activities at our different centres in Auckland on a hold.

"Knowing the gravity of this pandemic, we announced to our senior citizens that all activities are suspended until further notice and asked them to keep themselves safe at home and practice hygiene at all times," Nilima Venkat, General Manager of Shanti Niwas Charitable Trust told The Indian Weekender.  

With this new regime of staying at home, the lockdown, a new challenge came up for the Shanti Niwas team to make sure establish or conduct activities online and on social media so that seniors do not get lost in the lockdown blues.  

Shanti Niwas created a database of all the seniors enrolled with the organisation- divided them into centres, day-activities (Monday-Tuesday), senior who live with their families and the ones living alone or away from family.

The team created individual WhatsApp groups to cater to each group- encouraging them to do activities so that they do not get bored and keep themselves occupied and working.

"We asked the senior to use the social media space [WhatsApp] to share jokes, play a quiz on WhatsApp video calls, upload dancing and singing videos, play games, share their experiences etc., just make sure it's positive and helps one another," Jyoti Parashar, Senior Programme Coordinator of Shanti Niwas said.

WhatsApp screenshots of Shanti Niwas groups created for the senior citizens (Images supplied)

Ms Venkat further adds that such online activities were necessary so that they do not feel lonely during this lockdown, and depression doesn't seep into their lives.

The team also approached seniors who were living alone to be in touch with their friends and do participate in activities as well.

"Staying alone or at home is inevitable, so we made sure social isolation does not become depression for them. Our team made sure to call upon each of those vulnerable seniors and check upon them about their wellbeing," Ms Venkat added.

Shanti Niwas asked the seniors living alone or the ones unable to arrange for their weekly groceries and medicines to inform them of their needs and volunteers will cater to their essential needs.

"We asked our seniors to inform their doctors to fax their prescriptions to one particular pharmacy who would arrange their medicines and deliver them at their doorstep for free, so they don't run out of their daily medication.

 "We also asked seniors unable to get their food supplies to send them the list of essential groceries they need and volunteers from Shanti Niwas will get it for them at their doorstep," Ms Venkat added.

Shanti Niwas also stressed on the rise of elder abuse and domestic violence during this lockdown as predicted by police. Ms Venkat added on the number of reports of elder abuse and domestic abuse in the last one week, and the group has experts and experienced professionals who are catering to their needs as well.

"Shanti Niwas Elder Abuse Response Service is a Ministry of Social Development accredited Essential Service Provider, and we want to call out to our senior citizens or members of our community to let us know, report if they know anyone subjected to elder abuse and neglect.

"If you know of any senior who is being neglected or is in a state of abuse or need any social support services, please call our social workers for free and confidential support. 

Get in touch with us by phone call, text, WhatsApp, or email to discuss your needs and issues. We will try our best to help, support and guide you," Ms Venkat said.

Shanti Niwas team has now invited members of other communities, not just Asian or Indian to join them and participate in their WhatsApp and Facebook activities so that they can remain socially connected too during this lockdown.

Message from Shanti Niwas Team for COVID-19 Support: 

Please contact Shanti Niwas if you have any questions and/or assistance during this lockdown period. We acknowledge that these are daunting times, but together we can get through this too.

Call: Jyoti Parashar +64212082915 or Priya Ramrakhiani +64211131066, Email shantiniwas@xtra.co.nz & Facebook https://www.facebook.com/snct.newzealand

Elder Abuse is Not Okay

If you know of any senior who is being neglected or is in a state of abuse or need any social support services, please call our social workers for free and confidential support. 

Get in touch with us by phone call, text, WhatsApp, or email to discuss your needs and issues. We will try our best to help, support and guide you. Call Nilima Venkat on +64212028406 or Verona on +64212592114. 

Shanti Niwas Elder Abuse Response Service is an MSD accredited Essential Service Provider. 

Shanti Niwas charitable trust has been in the forefront serving seniors of South Asian origin for the past 25 years. As an organisation, we strive to look after the holistic wellbeing of our seniors. During these physical distancing times, we will reach out to you to provide support and assistance.

LOCKDOWN IS ABOUT PHYSICAL DISTANCING, NOT SOCIAL ISOLATION. LET'S BEAT THIS TOGETHER.