26/9/2023 0 Comments
In March, we appointed Zoe and Sarah as our new area co-ordinators to pioneer Embracing Age in Hampshire. 6 months on and it's staggering to see how much they have already got going!
The local community has really embraced the initiative and the project is already supporting 35 individual care home residents across 14 care homes with trained befriending volunteers as well as lots of craft projects. Read on to hear Zoe and Sarah's update on the amazing difference already being made to residents and others involved in the project, and the exciting things in the pipeline.
Visiting care home residents
We are really grateful to new befrienders who are visiting care home residents weekly and bringing companionship and joy to these residents. They are making such a positive difference.
One resident, who doesn't communicate much, is enjoying her weekly visits. Her volunteer brings gardening magazines and this has sparked lovely conversations about gardens and flowers and lots of reminiscing. The Activities Coordinator told us "we can't believe how chatty she's been, it's great to hear the laughter coming from her room".
Another resident, who has been reluctant to join group activities, has enjoyed sharing her photo albums and talking about her family with a volunteer befriender. The Activities Coordinator says that "Margaret's visits have made a great difference to Jean's well being and she has been feeling more confident to join in and has been in better spirits".
Another volunteer has been spending time with a resident who has just moved into the care home and is finding it hard to adjust to her new surroundings. Mary met her on her first visit and they bonded instantly. The Activities Coordinator says "Mary's presence in the home has really helped Jan settle in and feel at ease".
One of our new volunteer befrienders told us, “Volunteer visiting is so rewarding. Getting to know the residents is a privilege whether through sharing laughter or listening to worries. The volunteer training for residents with dementia has been extremely helpful.”
We would love to be able to welcome more befrienders as we develop links with more care homes and receive referrals for residents who would really benefit from regular visits.
Cards of Kindness
It has been really exciting over the summer to work in partnership with some local Hampshire libraries with our Cards of Kindness project. The children have made some wonderful cards for residents in their local care homes, and we are very grateful that the libraries are keen to continue offering this going forward too. We have more libraries launching similar initiatives over the next couple of months, including over half-term.
Bringing generations together
Now that the new school term has started, we are developing and expanding our intergenerational links. As well as making cards for residents, we have also launched sessions in care homes where children and young people can share a story, a song, or a skill together, and going forward, we would love to extend this with more care homes, schools, and colleges taking part.
The connections with the children bring so much joy to the residents, and we also recognise that the older people have so much to offer the younger generation to aid their learning, impart wisdom, and inspire them as they spend time together and build friendships across the generations.
Stimulating reminiscing and conversation
Photographers and artists have generously donated images for our Pictures of Joy initiative, and over the next few months we will be compiling these into books and resources that carers, volunteers, and residents' families can access to bring joy, evoke happy memories, and stimulate conversation with residents. We are also exploring with some local interest groups how we can create some reminiscence and memory boxes with residents and for residents.
Building links between churches, care homes and the community
Through the autumn, we have plans to link with more churches, care homes, and the community so that more people in the local areas know about Embracing Age and what we do and we are able to support more older people in care homes.
Events - watch this space!
We have a fundraising Christmas quiz planned. Individuals and groups are invited to purchase a quiz sheet, which will be available from November, and answers need to be submitted by the first week of January. There will be questions for all ages, and we hope families will enjoy taking part together. There will be prizes too!
We are also planning some Christmas shopping, craft, and pamper events in the lead-up to Christmas. More details of the quiz and events will be posted on our Facebook page, "Embracing Age Hampshire," in the coming months so follow that to keep updated, or contact the Hampshire team for more details.
You can find out more about Embracing Age Hampshire here. We have lots of different ways to get involved as an individual or an organisation and for a range of time and skills, and we would love to welcome you into the team to bring joy and companionship to more isolated care home residents across Hampshire.