It was a welcome change from pandemic-induced isolation when around 3000 aged care homes across Australia joined in a star-studded virtual Christmas sing-along on Thursday afternoon.
For two hours the ‘Big Christmas Sing-A-Long’ was broadcast to more than 25000 devices around Australia, reaching up to 500 000 older people in home care, residential aged care and retirement living. The event featured celebrity performances by Australian and international stars, including Johnny Young and Ernie Dingo, and was hosted by Studio 10 and Ten News presenter Narelda Jacobs.
Not to be upstaged, seniors and their families sent in videos and messages of their own performances to be broadcast as part of the event.
Producer Ben Alcott of Damn Good Productions (Sydney) said he hadn’t expected the number of videos from the audience.
“It was a bit out of control actually!” Mr Alcott said. “I just thought it’d be fun to say, ‘If you’ve got some stuff send it in”. And we had over a thousand groups submit messages!
“They really got into it, we were surprised because obviously they had to video it and send it to us. They were getting dressed up and singing their carols, all sorts of stuff.
“A very engaged audience.”
Sing-A-Long a Welcome Break from COVID-19
Royal Freemason’s Benevolent Institution (RFBI) partnered with aged care peak bodies, Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) and Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) to organise the event.
ACSA CEO Pat Sparrow said in a press release: “Older people need and deserve what is a fundamental human experience – to share and enjoy music.
“Singalongs might seem like a purely symbolic gesture at first but nothing could be further from the truth. This is a window into happiness that the entire community should be helping to keep open.”
LASA CEO Sean Rooney said the Sing-A-Long was a welcome event after the COVID-19 restrictions. “After battling COVID-19 and its broad impact on Australians, we want to celebrate the joy of living, sing some Christmas carols and also continue rocking on,” he said.
Christmas Cheer Spreads to the UK
The Big Christmas Sing-A-Long will contribute footage of the performances and audience submissions to a similar online event in the United Kingdom.
The Big Sing Christmas Care Singalong will be broadcast in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland on 25 December.