Aged care residents say don’t panic and dance through coronavirus storm

Michael Weaver 8 May 2020 15
Jann Hallenan and Bill Thomson

Goodwin Village residents Jann Hallenan and Bill Thomson, who were featured in the Canberra Strong Together campaign. Photos: Supplied.

Jann Hallenan has lived through a world war and outbreaks of tuberculosis and polio. She is also one of the first out on the balcony of her aged care home to be dancing to music with other residents most days.

“I lived through a period when I was very young when one of my classmates died of tuberculosis and I also lived through the polio epidemic when nobody knew what was next,” Jann says.

She also has some advice for people searching for ways to get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All you can do is just be patient. Don’t panic, it will pass. All these things pass. The best thing you can do is to occupy yourself,” she said.

Jann is one of the residents at Goodwin Village at Ainslie to be featured in a one-minute video campaign that shows Canberrans amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Called Canberra Strong Together, the campaign aims to build a sense of resilience among Canberrans and help to address the risk of early complacency with COVID-19 restrictions.

The video began airing last week and features Canberrans in their homes, backyards and makeshift offices. Some are doing a workout in their loungeroom or holding an impromptu dance-off in the kitchen.

Jann and fellow Goodwin Village resident, retired doctor Bill Thomson, who at 94 years young, also joins the ‘Goodwin girls’ for a daily dance-off that has caught on throughout the retirement village.

“You just lose yourself in the music and everything else is just forgotten about,” says Jann. “It’s really caught on because the Goodwin girls really throw themselves into with mad hats and sparkly things. It’s all just a bit of fun.

“We were young once and we knew how to have fun. I remember being in London in the 1960s and let me tell you, it was a lot of fun.

“We miss doing things like that now, but dancing around on our balconies makes you realise that you are not on your own and that somebody else is going through the same thing, too. You just don’t feel like you’re Robinson Crusoe anymore.”

Bill, who saw World War II as a teenager and went on to join the Royal Air Force and then the Royal Australian Air Force, still plays the piano when he can and says the daily dance-off helps shake the feelings of worry and isolation during the coronavirus restrictions.

“Our little gatherings when we play things like croquet and have coffee together have all stopped and we are very isolated as our family members can’t visit us as much, but like the majority of the population, we find ways to make do with what we have,” Bill says.

“As a doctor a long time ago, I’m a bit worried about the possibility of a second or third wave of the virus which is highly infectious. Unless it’s completely irradicated, or there’s a vaccine, I think people have just got to manage as best they can.”

Goodwin Aged Care resident

A resident of the Goodwin Aged Care Village in Canberra speaks with her son as part of the Canberra Strong Together campaign.

Developed by the ACT Government in partnership with local agency, Cre8ive, the new broadcast video was compiled in just under two weeks using crowd-sourced footage at a cost of $32,500.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the video is part of a long-term public information campaign, which addresses misinformation and complacency while recognising the effort towards supporting the community and economic recovery.

“We expect there to be some form of COVID-19 restrictions in place across the ACT for some time to come,” Mr Barr said.

“This campaign plays an important part in showing Canberrans that they’re not alone – we’re all in this together. We’ve come a long way but we can’t stop now, we can’t become complacent. The best way to help stop the spread of COVID-19 is by staying up to date, abiding by current restrictions and practising good hygiene.”

Jann and Bill both hope the spirit of how people are embracing their sense of community can continue long after the coronavirus passes.

“I’ve been showing my four-year-old grandson how to play the piano via Skype, which is a fantastic part of my day,” says Jann. “I’ve weathered a few storms in my lifetime, so this is just one more that will pass through.”

Bill says, “We’ve been cut-off from our normal activities for many weeks and we’re getting to the stage where we’re thinking it will be okay to lift some of these restrictions, but we really need to keep doing what we’re doing until it is completely safe to do otherwise.

“I’ll always take enjoyment from feeling the beat of great music and occasionally playing the piano when I can,” he said.

Canberra is stronger together in a crisis

Inside our little city beats a big heart, says the message from Canberra Strong Together. The video campaign aims to build community resilience and includes some foot tapping seniors, many families and friends and a strong sense that we'll get through the COVID-19 challenges by working together. #cbrtogether

Posted by The Canberra Page on Tuesday, 5 May 2020

People are encouraged to share their experiences on social media using #cbrtogether.


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15 Responses to Aged care residents say don’t panic and dance through coronavirus storm
Joanna Keenan Joanna Keenan 11:03 pm 07 May 20

If only.

Tara Murray Tara Murray 3:04 pm 07 May 20

A great way to look at life in general

Dorothy Simm Dorothy Simm 11:50 am 07 May 20

Jann This why we enjoy our Wednesday 'book' with you

Margaret Williams Margaret Williams 6:25 pm 06 May 20

I have also lived through all the above. I agree be patient, keep smiling and dance if you are still able.

Elizabeth Waldock Elizabeth Waldock 8:04 am 06 May 20

If you can’t dance, sing. If you can’t sing clap and stamp. Everyone can do something to get the endomorphins flowing

    Caz Kempie Caz Kempie 7:24 pm 07 May 20

    Elizabeth Waldock yes! Life is limited by health but enjoyment of life can still be felt in whatever measure we can join in.

Sue Willetts Sue Willetts 8:37 pm 05 May 20

God bless her🤗

Mira Mihajlovic Mira Mihajlovic 6:17 pm 05 May 20

Great advice. If in doubt as to what to do, dance. It will always make you feel better 😊

Steph Burgess Steph Burgess 5:21 pm 05 May 20

This is just marvellous!

Janice Norman Janice Norman 11:39 am 05 May 20

I don't do enough dancing!

Jennifer Reynolds Jennifer Reynolds 8:46 am 05 May 20

Good advice. I too grew up during the war years, tuberculosis, polio,diphtheria and whooping cough etc. There's always something evolving and bringing new challenges.

    Melda Plenty Melda Plenty 8:09 pm 07 May 20

    Nobody ever mentions diphtheria. I was born 1946 and remember as a child when my playmates got it and were sent to a sanitarium. Very hard on preschoolers.

    Jennifer Reynolds Jennifer Reynolds 8:57 am 08 May 20

    Melda Plenty I was born in 1938 but can remember mum's friends with babies and small children. Suddenly some of these children were there one day and then mysteriously gone the next. Victims of diphtheria or whooping cough etc. It was not talked about to other children.

    Tony Whelan Tony Whelan 10:33 am 08 May 20

    Born 1947, still remember a neighbour's young daughter who had a limp because of polio. And while some people may think tuberculosis is gone, there are now strains of it that are completely immune to antibiotics. The microbes will always evolve and epidemics will always keep happening.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:05 am 08 May 20

    Tony Whelan My English grandmother had polio as a child, and because of that had one foot noticeable shorter than the other. It didn't stop her though joining the woman's army in the first world war and being stationed in France for two years. Then after the war coming to Australia on a two year working holiday. (She planned to return to the UK, but met her husband on a western NSW station and stayed). She always had trouble with buying shoes, and squeezing the larger foot into too tight shoes caused problems late in life.

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