Published on 17 December 2021

Adopt a Grandparent

Roche Diabetes Care Spain has joined a national initiative connecting employees with seniors to make them the most precious gift of all: Time.

Share a favourite recipe, talk about current affairs, chat about old times, or just check in on someone - the topics for conversation are almost unlimited. And the topics are not what really counts. The key is engaging in conversation and taking time for each other.

“I have always had a special attachment to older people, and I think they deserve to feel loved by society,” says Susana Sanz, who currently works in the Compliance & Medical Affairs Department at Roche Diabetes Care in Spain. With this, she sums up in a few words what prompts her to participate in the nationwide Adopta Un Abuelo (Adopt a Grandparent) volunteer programme that builds bridges across generations.

Every volunteer counts

Roche has embarked on the voluntary collaboration with Adopta Un Abuelo at the beginning of 2021 as part of La marca que dejas (The mark you make), the corporate social responsibility brand of Roche Pharma Spain. With an initial commitment for an entire year, a first round of volunteering started in May; a second round was launched in October. Thanks to the joint effort of Diagnostics, Pharma, and Diabetes Care, more than 120 volunteers from all areas of Roche Spain, including 15 from Roche Diabetes Care alone, have since connected with a “grandparent”.

The original plan was to meet and chat in person. But as we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down. Thus, the volunteers set up phone or video calls. Once or twice a week, Susana connects with her assigned “grandmother”, Simona, who lives in a nursing home near the Catalan city of Manresa. “Simona is about 80 years old, and although at first, it was difficult for her to make conversation, she gradually gained confidence and told me her day-to-day anecdotes,” Susana says.

“We are pleased that Roche is the company that has provided the most volunteers in the seven-year history of the Adopta Un Abuelo initiative,” explains Oscar Garcia Ruiz, who coordinates the volunteering initiative at Roche Pharma Spain. He continues: “Any number of volunteers is good, and every volunteer counts. We are just proud to be part of this initiative. It is one way of paying tribute to the older generation and showing gratitude.”

Would you like to learn more about the programme first-hand? Watch this video and listen to Luisa Vázquez, who works in Customer Services for Europe at Roche Diabetes Care. She meets weekly with her assigned abuelo, a very talkative senior who has by now become a good friend to her.

Happiness in an envelope

Roche intends to consolidate its positioning in this area and continues generating value and respond to the increasingly pressing needs of society, the environment, and the healthcare environment. Now that the holiday season is just around the corner, Roche is also participating in a relatively new initiative with Adopta Un Abuelo: writing letters to seniors in nursing homes. Employees – whether they are already participating in the volunteer initiative or not – can write letters, and the association takes care of the delivery of the letters. The goal of all participating companies is to ensure that the 360,000 people in Spanish nursing homes receive mail. In addition, Roche will donate 1€ to the cause for every letter written.

For Susana, getting involved in the initiative was a decision she does not regret: “I encourage everyone to volunteer. My engagement has given me a lot of comfort to be able to contribute with people, sometimes not seen by society." Accompanying Simona was as positive an experience for her as it was for Simona.

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