I recently attended an excellent seminar organised by City University, London, with support from the Henry Smith Charity. The participants came from all over the UK and represented a range of voluntary and statutory sector organisations with a concern for ensuring that older people in care homes retained their connection with their local community – the one they were used to before becoming a resident and the one engaged with the care home. Community was defined by interest and connection not just geographical.
The discussions were wide ranging and embraced volunteering, relatives, intergenerational, creative activities and spiritual care. It is clear that older people entering care homes are now both older and frailer with a much higher level of dependency and therefore the need to high quality trained staff is critical but that staff also need to be supported and valued. A key challenge is to overcome the fact that society struggles with care homes in terms of quality, relatives guilt sometimes, perceptions of ‘money grabbing’ and a feeling that they are undesirable but necessary.
Care homes have been seen as ‘ islands of the old isolated from their communities’ and the purpose of the workshop was to consider ways in which connections and ways of engaging the local community could be better developed. Lots of interesting and creative ideas emerged from the discussion.
Care homes have historically been ‘islands of the old – isolated from their local communities’ and we were all asked to contribute our current work to the themes identified in this train journey:-
My Home Life – Promoting Quality in Life in Care Homes
What works well in community engagement?
- What are you working on now?
- What works well and what are the challenges?
- Mapping our good work:
- Pink ring: Befriending and 1:1 support
- Green ring: Providing Activities (Arts/Performance/Gardening/Outings)
- Yellow ring: Intergenerational
- Blue ring: Faith and Spiritual Support
- Red ring: Information, Advice and Advocacy
- Purple ring: Other
Extract from the presentation made by Tom Owen – My Home Life Team.
Faith and spiritual support (blue ring) played a significant role so I would welcome your ideas, knowledge about current work and ideas about the challenges to be confronted.
Maureen O’Neill – ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org