Long Read is a selection of full length articles, written for our quarterly magazine. The articles cover off subjects that are both topical and relevant to the care industry, our company and our homes.
Ever since issue #1 was published, we’ve had some really amazing contributors, from the Hairy Bikers, to BBC documentary makers. We’ve also had numerous contributions from writers, photographers and illustrators. All collaborating, to bring you interesting, thought provoking content. Enjoy the Long Read.
This Agenda piece appeared in the Spring Issue #15 - Click here to download full magazine
Changing perceptions one person and one business at a time, seems to be working.
Recently, we’ve spoken a lot about our new community volunteer project ‘Work Matters’, and for good reason. The project itself was actually the brainchild of our Nightingale Hall Home Manager, Mike Campling. The story goes, that the idea came to him as he watched two residents engaged in a healthy debate, over who’s turn it was to serve tea from the drinks trolley.
We found the story amusing of course, but as soon as Mike pitched the idea, I knew he was onto something special. It’s only now that the project has become established, we’re beginning to realise just how special.
On the face of it, the project simply offers resident’s who still feel like they have an awful lot to offer, the opportunity to volunteer in their local communities.
But, as we find out most days over here and across all of our homes, things are thankfully never as straightforward as that. Our core business isn’t product based, it’s people based. At the centre of that core, sits the residents, and as it ripples out, we have their families and loved ones, our staff, and beyond that, our local communities.
So, you take a simple, yet ingenious idea that may or may not have legs, introduce the people angle and that’s when the magic happens. All of a sudden, residents start to get excited by the possibility, their infectious enthusiasm reassures potential community partners and the project starts to take on a life of it’s own.
We read too many articles about older employees being forced into retirement against their wishes. Against a backdrop of social preconception, that once you reach a certain age, you automatically become incompetent and dithery, and the whispers about being ‘put out to pasture’ start.
What we’ve seen since our Work Matters project started, is proof positive that many of these preconceptions are nonsense. We can take examples from any number of our residents, who have flourished during their volunteer work.
Take Jeanette Williamson’s placement. A resident in our Nightingale Hall home, Jeanette worked for years as a pub landlady, but since retirement, and then moving into a care home, she often suffers from anxiety. We suggested our project could find her a placement in a pub, and she jumped at the chance. We partnered her up with the Talbot Hotel and the transformation was almost instant. We witnessed at first hand, the old Jeanette, confident and completely at ease. For Mike, who now oversees the entire Work Matters project, this isn’t an isolated success. When he updates me on the projects progress, these stories keep on coming.
Residents finding a new lease of spirit and purpose, shop owners and pub managers bewildered by the sheer force of nature, when our residents turn up. Changing perceptions one person and one business at a time, seems to be working.
It’s no secret that when older people feel a greater sense of purpose, they remain in better physical and mental health and maintain higher levels of self esteem. Our lifestyle coordinators work tirelessly to design and create programmes across all of our homes, that offer our residents the best possible options.
But Work Matters has shown us that sometimes, residents just want to work again. Maybe it’s for a full day, or maybe just a few hours, but the project has breathed a new lease of life into so many already, it has sent a clear message to all of us and our local communities. For me, the message is loud and clear. Age isn’t and shouldn’t be a barrier.
For an ever aging population, the governments concern isn’t just increasing the age of compulsory retirement, but by how much. What we’ve witnessed over the last few months, shows the glass ceiling has cracks in it. And I for one, will stand side by side any of our residents who want to smash it.
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