Gina McCormack says her digital tv programmes are a tribute to her late Athlone mother and her father.

Daughter of Athlone woman bringing Sunshine to nursing homes

The daughter of an Athlone woman who has setup a twice-weekly digital TV programme for residents of nursing homes says it is a tribute to her late parents.

Gina McCormack from Dublin set up Sunshine TV in September after looking after both her parents for a number of years.

“We spent every summer in Athlone because my mam, Elizabeth Henson, just loved being there with her mother,” Gina said. “She was about five when her father died, and there were six children in the family.”

Later on in life, Elizabeth developed dementia and required hospital care, and this was where Gina saw the importance of stimulating and entertaining the elderly.

“I used to go down to St James’ Hospital once a week to the elder-related unit. My mom never really wanted me to go after the visiting times, and I always stayed on a bit longer and took a lot in from being there.

“My dad was in Tallaght Hospital as well in his final years and they had a girl come in for music therapy and that gave him a bit of a boost every Tuesday because he actually suffered from depression. The girl even got him singing eventually!”

When Elizabeth got a place in a nursing home last year, the Covid-19 virus soon arrived in Ireland.

“They all got the virus in there, and while she only really had a temperature, in the end her health failed her. The show is certainly a tribute to her and my father.”

Sunshine TV grew out of Gina’s experience of caring for her parents, and she says the reaction has been great from nursing homes that have gotten involved.

“This is a half-hour tailored programme that includes two pieces of entertainment, a story time and sometimes an art competition. The activity coordinators in the nursing homes are actually now linking in with us. We have the Stella Maris nursing home on board now, everybody has been so supportive.

“The lovely Anna Boles in Athlone has also gotten involved. She’s so personable and lovely for the older people, and her artwork is very colourful which is perfect. As soon as we’re allowed to travel across counties we’ll be coming to Athlone to shoot some local heritage videos too.”

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