Nfld. & Labrador

These seniors are keeping spirits high during pandemic with a new focus on comedy

The folks at the Alderwood Retirement Centre in Witless Bay know how to make the best of a bad situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This Half Hour Has 31 Minutes brings improv from Witless Bay

Residents at Alderwood Retirement Centre came up with their own comedy show to keep their spirits up during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Renee Houlihan/Facebook)

The folks at the Alderwood Retirement Centre in Witless Bay know how to make the best of a bad situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The centre's performing arts group created its own show called This Half Hour Has 31 Minutes, a name based on its residents' favourite show, CBC's This Hour Has 22 Minutes.

Their first skit? How to knit toilet paper.

"The seniors just could not believe that there was a toilet paper crisis, and it just reminded them of when they were young and toilet paper was scarce, as they said, before Confederation," Rene Houlihan, recreation director at Alderwood Estates, told CBC Radio's On The Go.

"They worked on this for a couple of weeks and we laughed and laughed and laughed."

Houlihan said as things on the COVID-19 front became increasingly dire, it was important to the staff at Alderwood to keep the residents from becoming mentally fatigued or fall into despair. 

Government halted all visits to long-term care homes on March 23 to thwart the spread of the COVID-19 virus to vulnerable citizens.

Wanda Swain and Brittany Anne were fans of the Alderwood residents' video and stood outside to show their appreciation. (Alderwood Retirement Centre/Facebook)

Alderwood is currently in lockdown mode and is not taking visitors.

"It did two things. It let their families know that their spirits are high and they're happy, and they're focused, and they're having fun. And it also gave them a focus so they're not just sitting there watching the pandemic stories and getting overcome … and getting increasingly worried about it," said Houlihan.

"It was a great diversion to keep things light."

Even so, Houlihan said the residents aren't out of the loop. She said they know they're one of the most vulnerable segments of the population.

"Nobody is allowed in, nobody is allowed out. It is very alarming. So that's why we had to come up with creative ways, again, to fight this," she said.

And the show will go on.

Houlihan said the group is already planning its next skit, a rendition of Staying Alive by the Bee Gees.

"It's a bit of a spoof but they want to also dedicate it to all the front line workers."

The videos can be seen on the Alderwood Retirement Centre Facebook page, complete with a blooper reel from the knitting toilet paper segment.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from On The Go