Alzheimer’s Society has been running the Airedale Social Movement Programme in Airedale, Wharfedale, Craven and Leeds since August 2016. It is funded by NHS England as part of the Health as a Social Movement Programme, which is runs in partnership with the RSA and New Economics Foundation. The programme aims to bring local communities into the care home, and put the care home at the heart of the community.
Through our work on the programme, we have set up lots of initiatives in care homes. Different community groups, including schools, bowling clubs and arts students, have linked up with 8 care homes and are regularly running activities with residents to improve their quality of life, reduce their isolation and ensure they feel part of both the care home, and the wider community.
Case Study: Jean Booth, resident at The Coach House Care Home
Jean loves to knit but had lost motivation to carry on with it as she had no goal and no one to share it with. Our project started a Knit and Natter group within the home and has encouraged local volunteers to come in and join the group. The group decided that they wanted to start knitting blankets, hats and scarves for local charities to help vulnerable people.
Jean feels much more energetic and motivated and the knitting helps keep her hands flexible as she has quite advanced arthritis in both hands. She has commented on how she enjoys the social interaction and feels more positive and useful now that she has a goal and is helping vulnerable families and refugees:
“Julie (the Project Officer) has been wonderful. She really listened to me and arranged for someone to come and collect my blankets and send them on to help the Syrian refugees. I so look forward to the visits from Julie and Diane (the volunteer). They are so kind to me and the knitting keeps me going”
Coach House staff have also noticed a positive change in Jean, commenting that:
“She is always talking about the visitors and can’t wait for them to call in again. She feels so proud of what she has achieved with them. She also likes teaching them more about knitting.”
Diane, who lives in the community and volunteers as part of the Knit and Natter group, also finds taking part in the programme rewarding:
“I love coming to visit and have had great support from Julie (Project Officer). I feel happy to see how happy Jean is and how proud she is of what she has produced. Julie really made her feel special and always makes me feel appreciated. Her recognition, thanking me for my generosity and kindness makes all the difference”
Work such as this at The Coach House shows how activities like Knit and Natter provide regular social interaction and can have a huge impact on care home residents like Jean, improving their health, overall wellbeing and quality of life
One of our objectives is to spread our learning and approaches so that others can replicate the work that has been undertaken locally. We are launching resources to support this including a How To Guide for Care Home staff.
There are limited spaces left for the launch event, but if you would like to attend please book via our Eventbrite page. If you would like more information about this work, please contact Laura Cope (Programme Manager) at: [email protected]
UK care homes are facing a crisis of negative public opinion, inadequate funding and staffing shortages. But our society’s aspirations for what makes a good care home need to go beyond upholding the status quo.