Friday 16th June is National Care Home Open Day. The emphasis of Care Home Open Days is on the importance of connecting with local communities, developing lasting relationships and encouraging inter-generational rapport and the theme for this year will be “Friendship”. Sinead Devine, Reading Rooms Officer for Older People, tell us more about the impact of the day.
This theme works brilliantly with Verbal’s Henry Smith Charity funded programme in Care Homes which is developing Reading Rooms for Shared Decision Making around the idea of ‘community connectedness’. The theme also encourages care homes to celebrate friendships that have developed between residents, families, friends and staff, as well as with their neighbours, to reinforce how they should be an integral part of their local community.
Good care homes do great things all year round and this is the perfect opportunity to highlight what care homes do within local communities as well as how the local community can connect with them.
During our visit to London in March when we linked into My Home Life, we debated what connecting to the community or community engagement with care homes could be. For the purpose of the FaNs (Friends and Neighbours Project), the working definition is termed as “anything that connects care homes with local people, charitable groups, business and clubs”. Many homes find seasonal events such as Easter or Halloween are wonderful catalysts for community engagement. Indeed, at Christmas many homes would have several offers, for example, from community choirs or schools visiting; but generally, it is in between these bigger calendar moments that they would find it more difficult to find links to the community.
People living in care homes can sometimes feel isolated from the communities they were part of before they moved into a care home – even if their new home is only a short distance away. Many of us walk past care homes every day within our own communities but generally we never think about stepping inside and finding out more about the people who live and work there. It may not even occur to us that we would be most welcome in care homes especially if we can offer a new skill such as aromatherapy or can support a session with a group e.g. a local history session or can offer materials such as plants for gardening or funding some art materials.
Unfortunately, we only ever hear the bad news stories when things can go wrong. Few of us ever hear the wonderful work that does happen in care homes. Attending an Open Day can help us understand what is involved in later life care and see that wonderful care in action. The Henry Smith funded Reading Rooms will also help to bridge that gap where the community will learn more about later life care as well as help those in care homes make decisions about how they wish to connect to the community.
Reading Rooms will be celebrating National Care Home Open Day with a special event at Seven Oaks based at Crescent Link at 2pm on Friday with a wonderful inter-generational session.