The past couple of months have proved to be a testing time for the care sector – but both individuals and organisations working within it have gone above and beyond to ensure spirits remain as high as possible.
As a national charity providing care, accommodation and support services to thousands of older people, our priority at Methodist Homes (MHA) has been to make sure that all of our residents and staff feel supported and safe.
On an individual level though, we’ve seen some fantastic initiatives in homes across the country, as well as our community-based services working with others to make sure older people living independently are still supported.
Here we’ve highlighted just a few ways that everyone has pulled together to make a real difference to the wellbeing of residents during this difficult period.
Technology has played a vital role in keeping our residents connected with their loved ones and the outside world, when physical contact hasn’t been possible.
To help everyone keep in touch we purchased Samsung Galaxy tablets for every home, meaning residents can now use Skype and WhatsApp as a quick and easy way to communicate. We’ve also provided specialist Bluetooth headphones for those with hearing difficulties.
The homes themselves have also done a fantastic job at getting residents up to speed with using these new tools and making sure everyone can access them. At MHA Richmond in Bexhill-on-Sea, for example, staff have set up designated slots each day for residents to ‘book in’ sessions to call or message their families. This has brought so much joy, as families are obviously devastated at being kept apart for so long.
Additionally, where our music therapists haven’t physically been able to come into the home to run sessions, they have instead moved them online. This is so important for our residents, especially those living with dementia for whom weekly music therapy can make a huge difference to their wellbeing.
Our homes have also made great use of their own Facebook pages to keep relatives in the loop and highlight the activities taking place.
Through photos that are posted daily, relatives have been given an inside look at what is going on in the home. And some homes have even gone as far as producing their own music videos to put a smile on everyone’s face.
For example, our home managers in the East Midlands came up with the idea of joining together to produce a singalong to Bonnie Tyler’s ‘Holding Out For A Hero.’ Each home in the region individually sent in their clips of residents and staff singing and dancing, which was then compiled into a full performance and shared across social media.
It is this positivity and happiness that radiates not just inside the homes, but outside of it too – to families and the wider community.
Local community support
We are so thankful for the fantastic support that local communities have shown to our residents, members and staff during the coronavirus pandemic.
It has been well reported that resources of PPE have been stretched, and our CEO Sam Monaghan has been very vocal about this in the press. To help combat any potential shortages we sent out an appeal in all regions, asking local schools, businesses and factories to donate any supplies of protective equipment which were not needed.
We’ve seen many kind donations off the back of this. Local businesses, both big and small, have also been donating everything from pizzas and essential groceries to gardening equipment to keep staff and residents going. One big example is Morrisons supermarket supplying food bags in the Leeds area, so Live at Home schemes can distribute these to older people so they don’t have to go out.
As the care sector continues its dedicated work, day in day out, of helping older people to remain connected and live later life well, this community spirit has been a huge positive while tackling the challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis.