Every day residents of the independent living units at Sunnyside Lutheran Retirement Village meet outside for a 'cuppa' to combat social isolation amid COVID-19.
Since the first lockdown they have gathered in Gross Court to celebrate birthdays, Anzac Day, Mother's Day and to check-up on each other.
Gross Court resident Gloria Hill said the afternoon teas and walks around the river had given her something to look forward to.
"It began with our next door neighbour asking us to meet outside at 3pm for a cuppa and then it just grew from that," Mrs Hill said.
"Residents have turned 80, 96, 94 and 81- we celebrated their birthdays with something a bit stronger than coffee.
"For Anzac Day we also had a lovely ceremony and put memorabilia on our letterboxes."
Mrs Hill has been using FaceTime and Zoom to stay connected with her family from Melbourne and Darwin.
"We haven't seen one of our daughters since September last year," Mrs Hill said.
"We will probably Zoom call them soon because it is our grandson's birthday."
Resident Marion Pieterse said the gatherings had been very valuable in helping elderly people cope with their anxieties about contracting the virus.
"It has brought balance to our lives by doing something a little bit normal," Mrs Pieterse said.
"People's anxieties began to dissipate when they began to accept what was happening.
"It was also a way to do community health checks - each of us could check in on each other and see if we were okay.
"I think it is especially important for people who live by themselves so they have someone to talk to."
During the pandemic Mrs Pieterse has kept busy painting and is a member of the Makers Gallery art group.
"I have been exploring different mediums and my 17-year-old granddaughter has asked me to do some paintings for her," Mrs Pieterse said.
"The Scrabble group is also running again which was great news, we can get very competitive."
Resident Hans Watig spent fives weeks in isolation without seeing anyone and admits it has been lonely at times.
"Eventually I joined the group and they educated me about the restrictions," Mr Watig said.
"We have our afternoon tea in a circle at arms length, it has been a great asset."
Mr Watig has no family in the area but has Skyped his son, who lives in London, daily.
"I have also kept myself busy on the computer and I play music everyday from morning to night," he said.
Horsham resident Di Bell said the daily gatherings have helped her father Cyril Carracher, who lives at Gross Court.
"Residents initially found it hard and were confused with the restrictions," Mrs Bell said.
"For many life as they know it has stopped - many older people are frightened knowing they are in a high risk age group."
Mrs Bell wants to encourage everyone call a friend, family member, neighbour or a workmate and ask them 'R U OK?'.
"Many elderly residents are used to socialising through their usual groups like the Lions Club, craft groups, church services and volunteering," Mrs Belll said.
"The court gathering has become a high point in their days, it keeps them connected and gives them something to look forward to."
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