Learning Disabilities & Autism Opinion

Lighting the touch paper on community engagement

John Joannides Corporate Services and PR Project Administrator Quantum Care

John Joannides, from Quantum Care on how community engagement promotes an Outstanding culture of wellbeing for all

As a care provider, we’ve always been big on community engagement. Done properly it can help to ensure that our residents feel a part of the community within which they live. It also heightens the awareness that local communities have of our homes which further encourages engagement.

At the risk of preaching to the converted, living in care home as an older person shouldn’t mean that the home becomes your whole world view. It’s a place to live, with support when it’s needed, and what lies just outside that front door belongs just as much to our residents as it does to any other individual.

Coming out of the other side of the Covid-19 pandemic, our activities teams began ramping up their external activities again and it was wonderful to once again follow the adventures our residents had further afield. In mid 2023 we decided we wanted a “vehicle” that we could use to further ramp up our community engagement and, after a workshop or two, came up with the Quantum Care Community Challenge.

This took the form of fifteen community related challenges, to be completed within the month of October, which we set to all of our homes. Eight of the challenges involved communities coming into the homes and seven involved residents and staff going out into their local communities. There were points awarded for each challenge and excellent prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd places.

The challenges were designed to vary in difficulty and sometimes absurdity, just to help inject a little humour. From holding a simple charity event in the home, to securing a visit from a local celebrity, to taking a group photograph of residents and activities staff in a local café, with a member of the café staff … and a giraffe. We also supplied supporting items to our homes which they could use during the challenges such as challenge T-shirts and information cards which could be handed out to community members, explaining the challenge and introducing the home.

Very often, the most “energetic” of our staff teams can be found among our activity workers and the start of the competition was like lighting the blue touch paper on a firework, causing this month-long event to take on a mind of its own.

Each challenge represented an opportunity to achieve a number of things. Firstly, an enjoyable, engaging and entertaining activity for residents. Secondly, an opportunity to raise community awareness of the home and its residents. Thirdly, an opportunity to show a face of social care not seen as often as it probably should and, finally, the chance to boost the profile of Quantum Care as a care provider. Not to mention the torrent of social media opportunities that arose as photographs of challenges being attempted came into head office live from each event.

Another interesting aspect is the support received from the friends and families of our residents, who offered help and support throughout the competition. The enthusiasm was genuine, widespread and long-lived. Similarly, members of the public very often eagerly offered their assistance when a group from one of our homes was attempting a challenge.

This community engagement initiative, and the interactions it encouraged, also helped to chase away some of the negative perceptions that people have of modern care home living and social care. It also created 330 separate community based opportunities in one month, each one a touchpoint for residents to enjoy themselves and for the community to interact with them, our company and the world of social care.

There has also been a lasting effect on our residents and staff who were enthusiastic throughout. The event is still talked about, and laughed about, and there’s an expectation that it should happen again. I think we can manage that.


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