A desire to ‘care for the carers’ was at the heart of the Royal Freemasons’ Benevolent Institution’s (RFBI) award-winning programme, ’Mental Moments Show’.
A recipient of the 2021 HESTA Excellence Award for ‘Outstanding Organisation’, the show was a livestream programme broadcast from Sydney into all 22 RFBI villages for residents, staff and families to enjoy.
Running throughout Mental Health Week, October 6 to 10, 2020, the show included a number of special guests, well-known performers and special messages from Australia’s aged care community.
Frank Price, chief executive officer of RFBI, told Aged Care News that the idea for the show was borne from a desire to recognise the plight of aged care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This time last year, most of us were coming out of lockdown … but the aged care workers that I was speaking to were still too scared to do basic things, like go to the hairdresser or get groceries, in fear they might inadvertently take the virus into their facility.
“It’s something that was really front-of-mind for them.”
“The question was, ‘who’s caring for our carers?’” he said.
“We knew we had to find a way to show our support, that we do care and worry about them.”
Price consulted with PR manager Max Markson and Damn Good Productions and within seven weeks, a vibrant cast of entertainers and celebrities were on board, including singer and recording artist Kamahl and Olympic swimming legend Ian Thorpe.
A range of high profile corporate sponsors came to the table, including, but not limited to, Coca Cola Amatil, Lindt & Moet Chandon.
“I think it’s important really to to acknowledge the fact that the general community immediately said ‘yes’ when we called out for help,” Price said.
Event sponsors Christian Louboutin and Bvlgari both donated handbags which were added to a raffle for aged care staff.
“As you know, aged care workers aren’t the best paid workers… so to see the look on [the two winners’] faces was just superb.”
Overall, he said that the ‘week of celebration’ was a resounding success.
“It was it was almost like a homecoming.
“Everybody came to the party … every day we would go into a number of our villages live and we would have our residents and our staff there and people can watch it from wherever.
“We had family members from all over the world as as it turns out being able to put in comments to show their support and appreciation for our workers.”
Immediately after the success of the program, RFBI went into conversation with Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) to develop an expansion of the program.
The award-winning program will now air its second, bigger-and-better festival in October, which will culminate on Mental Health Day 2021.
“I’m so happy that we’re expanding to include all aged care workers,” Price said.
“We’re into the second year of the pandemic and our resilience is copping a battering.
“People in general are finding it harder to deal with the challenges, so I think the programme is even more important this year than it was last.”