Bringing the outside in – WiFi in Brendoncare homes

In 2014, Brendoncare’s fundraising team launched the “Let’s Do 30” campaign, aimed at raising money to install WiFi in its ten homes across the South of England. Staff, volunteers and supporters took part in a wide variety of fundraising activities, and the project was supported by generous grants from various Trusts and Foundations.

Starting in East Grinstead with Brendoncare Stildon, and working through each home one by one, the installation was completed in August this year when Brendoncare Meadway in Winchester came online. Residents are now able to access free WiFi in their rooms, and the technology is proving invaluable for activities within each of the homes.

Brendoncare Chiltern View, in Aylesbury, had WiFi installed in March 2015. Since then, residents, volunteers and staff have used the equipment widely, both independently and in group activities. As with all of Brendoncare’s homes, a member of staff has taken on the additional responsibility of WiFi champion, researching appropriate and creative apps, and helping activity co-ordinators to lead a number of online activities.

At Chiltern View, popular apps have included “My Reef 3D”, which enables you to create and explore your own mini-aquarium, and “Let’s Create Pottery” where residents can enjoy the therapeutic and relaxing experience of creating their own pottery designs. Both offer residents the opportunity to try something new and creative that would otherwise be difficult in their daily life. Residents have also been surprised at how easy it is to watch clips of old films, or listen to their favourite music online.

In group activities such as cooking, some residents were having difficulty following verbal instructions for decorating cupcakes. Online images of bright and exciting cupcake designs helped to capture the attention and give some ideas, as well as providing a visual aid to instructions. Many residents enjoyed picking a cupcake picture online and decorating their cake to match.

Fundraising for WiFi at Chiltern View was given a massive boost thanks to a wonderful grant for £10,000 from the Rothschild Foundation. In the home itself, two members of staff took part in the British London 10K run last year, and Home Administrator Claire Amos undertook a sponsored 30 day “Let’s Get Healthy” challenge.

Next steps at Chiltern View include helping residents to register for Skype accounts, to enable them to keep in touch with family and friends who live further away. Skype has already made a huge difference to residents at Brendoncare Stildon in particular, where one resident was able to attend her daughter’s wedding via iPad, and other residents have enjoyed chatting with family members they haven’t seen in several years.

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