Tracy Leese, one of our regular activity coordinator columnists, talks about how working with the community can be a positive and mutually-beneficial relationship for everyone involved…
I have been in my role at Wrenbury for nearly a year and a half now, and one of the things I have focused on during that time is not only bringing the community into our home, but also getting our residents out about within it.
When I took over the role I was informed by the activity coordinator I was replacing that the home did not have a good reputation in our local village and that nobody would actually come to our home. Since that time, I have managed to build really strong links with the local school, the church, our local pub, the village shop – who donate prizes once a month to our bingo – .our local Asda – who recently agreed to contribute prizes towards our raffles to raise money for our residents – and the village itself.
Once a month, our local parish church come in to perform a service for our residents….well, the ones that want to take part! Often on special occasions, such as the Harvest Festival, the service we receive in the home is a mirror image of the one taking place in the church. During the Christmas period, we have two services, our usual monthly service, and an extra Christmas nativity service. Around Remembrance last year the church also got the Royal British Legion involved and we had a full Remembrance service too – something it felt really important to mark for all our residents. I also have close ties within the church myself, and will often organise trips for our residents to go and be a part of church events.
The local school have been in a few times to sing to our residents, and I am currently in the process of organising a monthly group to come and read to our residents and/or play games with them. And, at Christmas, a couple of very special students gave up their time on Christmas Day to deliver presents to all our Wrenbury family.
There are many other ways we are connected to the community, but in some ways, the links and ties we have built really came to the forefront just before Christmas, when we sadly lost one of our most popular residents. The gentleman in question had no family or next of kin and it was down to my brilliant home manager and I to organise his funeral. As a result of the links we have in the village, people from the community and church who had the pleasure of meeting this gentleman, helped where they could and came along to pay their respects. It was lovely to see that he’d touched so many lives within our community – something I am not sure would have happened a couple of years ago.
Last month, our home was invited to be a part of Compassionate Communities – a local group that get together and do projects to enhance the lives of those within the village and those who live within our home. We are of course very excited by this and can’t wait to be a part of it and for our residents to feel the benefits of this project.
Building community ties 15 months ago seemed such a daunting task, but now I feel that our home actually belongs in the village and our residents are a part of the community. I can’t express the importance of community ties, and the benefits they bring to all our residents. There is nothing better for the generation we care for than feeling a part of a community, just like they would have done in their younger days.
Tracy Leese is an activities coordinator at Wrenbury Care home, where she has worked for a year. She has nine years’ experience working in care and has a Level 3 in Adult Social Care. Prior to working in care, she gained a BA honours in Art Film and Journalism, but came to the care industry after a period of time caring for her mother while she was receiving treatment for cancer.