Over one million older people are reported feeling lonely often or all the time and 49% of over 65s admit that television or pets are their main companions.
Whilst loneliness is often more associated with individuals living alone, it can also affect residents in care homes. Some residents have no friends or family to visit and very few links to their local community.
At Brendoncare, our residents enjoy the company of the staff, meeting other residents, joining activities and forming friendship groups. But they also benefit from visiting volunteers, who provide an opportunity for social interaction and a community feel to our homes.
Volunteers provide encouragement, share memories, moments of laughter and become part of the families in our homes services. They offer insight into the culture surrounding our homes, have knowledge of the local areas and often share their experience of countries they’ve travelled to.
The small amount of time volunteering in care homes takes can make a real difference to the people living in the home.
Volunteering at Brendoncare
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Brendoncare homes had to close their doors to visiting volunteers in March 2020. Some of our volunteers were also vulnerable because of health related problems, age or other personal issues.
During this time, some volunteers maintained contact with residents through posting cards, letters and making phone calls.
In early summer 2021 volunteering in care homes started again, with volunteers visiting from a safe distance outside in the gardens. Following this, we began welcoming volunteers back to our care homes, ensuring to follow the Testing and Infection Control guidelines.
We have confidence in our volunteers across our services to offer a listening ear, occasionally a voice of reason, a friend to laugh with and someone new to share life experiences with.
From a regular coffee morning, weekly quiz, singalong sessions, hand massage, crafts, musicians, gardeners and the odd bit of DIY, our homes are glad to welcome volunteers back.
Volunteers offer the gift of friendship and time and really make a different across our services.
Sophia a volunteer at Otterbourne Hill, plays instruments to the delight of Brendoncare residents. She said: ‘I found playing the clarinet and piano to the residents most rewarding and I love to play because I can express my emotions through my music. I find the way that this can influence others most heart-warming and I was particularly touched by one resident who seemed to enjoy it so much that he got up and started dancing, even following me to watch my next performance. Giving elderly residents such joy makes me feel my own sense of satisfaction and fulfilment.’
Volunteering in care homes makes a difference to residents and relatives
Volunteering in care homes can bring benefits to both residents and relatives. Relatives are reassured by the relationships volunteers form with their loved ones and residents gain a friend through them.
Mike, a volunteer, often visits Brendoncare Park Road resident Arthur. He describes his experience of getting to know Arthur: “On one recent visit in October, Arthur was doing more of the talking and we were talking about my job, I mentioned that various jobs needed special talents and said I couldn’t have done his job as an engineer because I was useless at making things with my hands. Arthur smiled when I said I might have been just about clever enough to have carried his toolbox for him.
“The nicest thing about visiting the gentleman is if I can get him to smile about something; that means I’ve managed to cheer him up a little. He’s very frail so the visits don’t last for much more than half an hour, but he likes seeing me and it gives him a change of face to look at and person to talk to and that is what my visits are all about.”
Carole, Arthur’s daughter, said: “Mike has developed a really positive relationship with our dad in a short time. He is kind, patient and a good listener and our dad says that he enjoys his visits.
“Mike has certainly made a considerable effort to engage our dad in conversation and build on our dad’s interests. He is a very special person who gives of his time freely and we appreciate this.”
If you have time to spare, or skills and interests to share, we would love to hear from you. Volunteers are an essential part of our services and help us provide a high quality of life for our residents and club members.
A small amount of time can make a real difference to their lives.
Brendoncare Community clubs helps to alleviate social isolation and loneliness in a positive way. Our community clubs can give people in later life the opportunity to get out and connect with others in their local community.
Volunteers are essential to our work at Brendoncare and we could not achieve what we do without their involvement. Our volunteers make such a difference and put smiles on the faces of members and care home residents every day.