Care home residents are almost twice as likely to feel severely lonely, as older people living in their own homes. One resident described it as “feeling alone in a crowd’. She was surrounded by people, but didn’t feel connected to any of them.
One charity that’s determined to tackle loneliness in care homes is Embracing Age. Their national Care Home Friends project equips local churches, helping them to train up volunteers, who then spend time visiting and building friendships with residents.
“Even when it’s a family member, it can be intimidating visiting someone living in a home,” said Jen Carter, whose own father lived in a nursing home. “It can be hard to know what to say or how best to spend that precious time together.”
That’s why, Care Home Friends ran a challenge, to find 101 ways to spend time with an elderly relative or friend. At the last count, 62 ideas had been submitted and added to the post on their blog, with suggested activities ranging from playing board games to sharing a manicure together.
One local church, with just 20-30 regular attenders, visited their local care home every month to share communion. They started a Care Home Friends project because they saw a real need in those they visited for friendship and a deeper connection.
This small church has continued to build on their success. Once a month, their Church Mice toddler group meets in the care home, much to the delight of residents.
With just a handful of volunteers, the saying ‘small is beautiful’ certainly rings true, as they’re making a big impact in their community.
“Imagine if every Care Home was adopted by a local church”, says Director, Tina English, “what a difference we could make in the lives of care home residents across the UK. I believe it’s time to restore the dignity and worth of older people in our nation.”