It’s National Care Home Open Day on 21st April 2018 http://www.carehomeopenday.org.uk/

Care homes up and down the country will be opening their doors and inviting people into their establishments to find out more about the benefits that care homes can offer to their residents, families and local communities.

The theme is ‘Linking Communities’ and the aim is to build relationships with local organisations, schools and community groups and to celebrate the lives of all people living in communities, of which care homes and their residents are an integral part.

At Unforgettable we are keen to develop connections with care homes. We are interested in exploring the potential ways in which our products and services could ease the difficulties of living with dementia in a care home setting. Could we develop new products that would provide solutions to the many challenges that residents, family members and care workers face?

Listening and learning, working collaboratively with staff, residents and relatives, is our preferred approach; part of my role as Caregiver-in-Chief is to offer expertise to care homes and to explore opportunities for developing creative initiatives.

I visited Hollyfields Care Home in Kidderminster, earlier this week. I met Michael Butler, the Activities Co-ordinator, and he showed me round the brand-new dementia unit, Ivy House, that is due to open very soon.

Michael proudly told me about the many and varied opportunities that are available for residents at Hollyfields, enjoyable activities that promote meaningful engagement and purpose.

One initiative that Michael has spearheaded is a pen-pal scheme with a local primary school. Residents at Hollyfields and children in Year 4 are paired up and encouraged to write letters to each other. The project caught the imagination of the local press and was featured in a BBC broadcast in November last year.

The benefits, of equal measure to the children and the residents, are clear to see: this is just the sort of initiative that breaks down barriers and helps to join communities together across generations.

National Care Home Open Day in the UK is aligned with International Care Home Open Day, co-ordinated by CommonAge, thereby celebrating the talents and experience of people involved in care homes worldwide.

Recognising the value of global communities, partner charity for National Care Home Day, NAPA (National Activity Providers Association) has launched the ‘NAPA Challenge 2018’ for the week of 18th – 21st April 2018. In celebration also of the Queen’s 92nd birthday (which falls on 21st April too) the theme of the challenge is ‘A food journey around the Commonwealth’.

To take part (and be in with a chance of winning £500) care homes are invited to focus on at least three Commonwealth countries and to carry out three Ps:

  • Provide food that will encourage conversations
  • Persuade folk to move and mobilise more by setting up unusual places to ‘visit’ either within the home or in the community
  • Post materials around the care home that will spark memories linked to the Commonwealth

You can find more information about the NAPA Challenge, and the work of NAPA more widely, here.

The Care Home Open Day website has useful resources and guidance available to help make the very most of this special opportunity to raise the profile of the important part that care homes play in local communities.

If you are intending to take part in National Care Home Open Day and would like to tell us more about your plans and ideas, please do get in touch. We will be happy to share your stories and pictures on our website. Please do let us know how you are engaging people and organisations and building relationships with your local community to enrich the lives of people with dementia living in care homes.

You can contact me at askbarbara@unforgettable.org or by telephone at the Unforgettable office.

For my part, I shall be heading back to Hollyfields Care Home in Kidderminster on Care Home Open Day. I am looking forward to meeting the residents of the new dementia unit and talking to relatives, staff members and people from the local community. I am sure it will be a rich and enjoyable day.

This link is to an article that features the Kidderminster project with Franche Primary School and Hollyfields Care Home in Kidderminster: https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/2018/apr/05/putting-pen-to-paper-instilling-a-love-of-the-written-word

*Photo credit (c) Alicia Clarke