Care Home Friends
Home and family comes in many different shapes and guises. One village church in Norfolk is making a real impact on the elderly in their community.
In a village of just 1,489 residents (according to the 2011 census), with 20–30 regularly attending their weekly church services, size (or lack of it) has not deterred the team at St Mary’s, Newton Flotman, from making a difference.
Last year they set up a Care Home Friends project, with volunteers going in regularly to visit elderly care home residents.
Volunteers visit weekly, talk about childhood memories or the news, or sometimes take individual residents outside for a walk in their wheelchair. Special boxes, full of objects connected to topics they enjoy, help volunteers initiate and engage in conversation.
Once a month, the church baby and toddler group, Church Mice, meet in the care home. Residents and children sit around, talk and do crafts together. Everyone enjoys singing nursery rhymes together.
A small group from the church visit regularly to lead a communion service, which is well attended by residents. For those unable to join in, the team visit residents in their rooms and are able to share communion and pray with them.
A number of care home residents are picked up and taken to the monthly community lunch in the church room, where they get to meet other village residents, both old and young.
There are occasional outings for the residents, where one of the team drives the minibus to take residents on a day out. A recent outing to the seaside town of Southwold was well received, with beautiful sunny weather being an unexpected bonus.
With loneliness impacting over 8 million people in the UK, the church is involving older people in their community and creating opportunities for friendships to grow and blossom.
This small local church believes and acts on the quote, that “helping one person might not change the whole world, but it could change the world for one person.”
Community outreach worker Andy Cox says;
“We’ve had highs, such as being shortlisted for an award for our work at the Caring UK Awards. I’ve also been involved in end-of-life care for some and been involved in funerals which, although sad, has been a privilege.” Andy is hoping to recruit more volunteers from the local area to help reach more older people in their community.
Head of Care at the home says, “We’re so grateful to everyone who makes such a difference to the daily lives of our residents.”
What’s impressive about what they’re doing is that it’s just a handful of volunteers running everything – from the baby and toddler group, to the Care Home Friends project, the monthly communions and the occasional outings. It’s creating family across the generations.
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