Posted: 16 June 2017
This Care Home Open Day Jim Thomas, Programme Head for Workforce Innovation at Skills for Care, reflects on the importance of building relationships between care homes and communities, in which we all have a part to play. He says:
"We’re all part of a community.
Whether it's the community we live in, a community of people we associate with because we share interests, experiences or challenges, or a community of mutual cooperation; communities guide and shape many aspects of our lives.
Many of us will live a short walk, ride or drive from a care home and will know or have personal experience of care home life. As a part of the community, a local care home has as much to offer its community as the community has to offer people living in the care home. As part of Skills for Care's community skills programme one care home told us William's story.
William lived in the same village all of his life, but when his increasing physical frailty meant that he could no longer live in his own home, he decided to move into the care home in his own village.
For William, this could have been the end of him being able to contribute to local community life. However, as the staff supporting him gained his trust and started to get to know him better, William felt more confident and began to share his experiences as an engineer.
For many villagers, William was the slightly quirky owner of the local garage with an ability to fix anything mechanical. What William hadn't mentioned before was his experiences as a Spitfire engineer. Working late into the night repairing planes, he never knew if the planes and pilots would return. Often he felt guilty that his technical knowledge and skills made him more valuable in the relative safety of a Home Counties airfield than out on the front line.
With support from the care home team, William was able to share his knowledge and experiences with children at local schools. Being able to do this gave William a whole new purpose in life.
He developed lots of new skills including learning how to put old photos into a power point presentation, learning how to present his knowledge to different audiences and how to handle questions without getting irritable about the obvious ones.
William became very much in demand and his new celebrity status brought local media and people into the care home.
What William's story tells us is that care homes and the people living in them bring lots of benefits to the community, as well as receiving support from their community.
People living in care homes often have unique experiences, skills and knowledge to share with local citizens and a passion for things that others in that community may have too. This could be the retired librarian living in a care home who’ll happily organise the local book sharing club, the florist who can’t make the flower arrangements any more but can teach others how it's done or the retired social worker running benefits advice for local families from the care home.
A care home is full of experience, skills and knowledge and whilst some people may not have the energy to share, many others will. The care home and the community it’s located in have much to offer each other, and that’s why we’re encouraging care homes to open their doors this Care Home Open Day 2017."