A guest blog from an American student who volunteered as a Care Home Friend this summer:
This summer I got in contact with Embracing Age, who got me in touch with a care home in the Borough of Richmond. At first I felt a little intimidated by the experience, as I was unsure of what was going to happen. I went in with quite an open mind, not sure what to expect as I had never really done that kind of work before; it was a new experience for me but I was excited for what the days would entail.
When arriving at the home, I immediately felt welcomed by the whole staff as well as the residents. The manager talked me through protocols and introduced me to all the people at the home.
The residents had different levels of dementia. All of the residents were women, except for a recently turned 100-year old gentleman, who was staying at the home because his wife was also a resident. Meeting all these new people and hearing about all their life stories was such a great experience. Some were extremely talkative and I loved hearing about their younger lives and all their travels.
I also spent the afternoons playing scrabble with two residents. I’m slightly ashamed to admit it but I lost all the games we played! One resident was an amazing scrabble player and her electronic dictionary put me to shame!
The experience was wonderful - incredibly insightful! The staff were welcoming and the residents there were a delight to meet and interact with. I was thoroughly interested in the way the house ran and the enthusiasm of everyone there. I was actually quite sad leaving as I really enjoyed the whole experience. I truly valued the experience of spending time at this care home. I hope that I can go back when I’m back in the UK!