Opinion Wellbeing

Improving wellbeing through Vibrant Communities

Chris Gage, Managing Director, Vibrant Communities

Vibrant Communities enables care homes to substantially improve wellbeing for isolated individuals in line with the new CQC regulatory framework. Live online social groups mean that people can connect with others who have similar interests, identity and culture, and share experiences with families and friends. 

Before the pandemic Ladder to the Moon, a dementia care social enterprise that supported people living and working in care and independent living settings for over 20 years, had been working face to face in care communities. They still wanted to provide meaningful engagement for residents even when they could no longer go in person. So they developed a new and innovate way to use Zoom to reach and engage with older audiences, and Vibrant Communities was created.

Vibrant Communities runs live social groups every week day. The groups are designed to include everyone; nothing is based on memory or getting things “right”. We welcome all contributions, and this enables people living with dementia to join in.

Substantially improved wellbeing

Vibrant Communities has proved that online social groups provide meaningful engagement for older people, and they can have a massive impact on wellbeing for individuals like Jim.

Jim is a lifelong West Bromwich supporter and is a member of Vibrant Communities’ fortnightly football club. Jim prepares quizzes and histories for the group, and shares his expertise and experience with people from other care homes who share his passion for football. Some members of the group even remember the same games and cheered on the same players! Jim is also part of other Vibrant Communities’ groups, including the Christian Service and the ever-popular team quizzes. He now joins from his bed due to deteriorating health, but the online groups are accessible for everyone.

Families make memories together online

Most of the time face-to-face is still going to be preferable to online, although that is only the case if you can be there. Some people can’t visit in person; but it’s really appealing to a lot of families if they can do something together online. We have families who live abroad joining their family members in a groups, and also when they are visiting family members in the care community.

We all hope that the lockdowns won’t happen again, but if they do Vibrant Communities allows pandemic proof access for families and friends to participate and have shared experiences.

CQC evidence

Because Vibrant Communities improves wellbeing and outstanding personalisation for isolated individuals, it provides care homes with evidence for CQC:

“CQC are clear that they want services to meet the unique needs and preferences of the people they support. Technology enables providers to  deliver this deep personalisation in a way that wasn’t possible two years ago.” Chris

The live social groups innovate using technology in way that is aligned with the new CQC framework based on I-statements around interests, identity and culture.

Bringing the wider world into care homes

Another positive outcome of Vibrant Communities has been that museums, art galleries and other places of interests have seized the opportunity to take their collections and expertise into care communities online.

For example, we have recently run groups the National Trust, Edinburgh Botanical Gardens, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and with Walthamstow Wetlands. The support of these organisations means we can offer people living in care communities a way to try something new. Even after the pandemic it is still hard to visit places further away, or when the weather is bad, or if someone’s mobility does not allow this. Vibrant Communities make sure they don’t miss out.

Vibrant Communities offers care communities a personalised way to reduce isolation and improve wellbeing. The live online groups that were popular during lockdown, are still popular now. They save staff time and enable meaningful relationships to flourish via Zoom between people who share the same interests but might well not live in the same local community.

www.vibrantcommunities.co.uk/

Photo credit: Rebecca Cresta

 

Kirsty

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