FaNs Frequently Asked Questions

Information about FaNs, what it is and how you can be involved.

To add in links to other examples in other parts of the site as examples in due course?

Who can be a FaN?

Anybody of any age who shares our belief that older people in care homes have a better quality of life if they can continue to do the things they enjoy and stay involved in their wider communities.

What do FaNs do?

FaNs can help in many different ways. They can be friends and neighbours to both the care homes as a whole and/or to the individual older people who live in them. Some enjoy friendships and share interests with individual residents or help with activities within the home. Others offer practical help or special skills and talents to help care home staff or help care homes to make the best use of the resources in their local communities or help an individual resident have a specific 'wish' granted.

How can children and young people be FaNs?

Children have their own section of FaNs – the Young FaNs Club - and we actively work with Essex Schools to encourage this and show the benefits for the young people as well as the older residents. Learning; breaking down stereotypes; improving self esteem, self confidence and communication skills; building impressive CVs; gaining awards; having a lot of fun – these are some of the things that happen when children and young people come into contact with the people who live in care homes.

Do I have to join an organisation?

No. FaNs is not an organisation in itself. It was set up and is run by a small local Charity, the My Home Life Essex Community Association (MHLECA for short!) We like to think that our FaNs feel part of an Essex FaNs Network and we love it when FaNs share their stories - it really helps to inspire others to get involved.

Do I have to make specific time commitment?

No. There are lots of different ways to contribute as a FaN. Some residents will benefit from a regular commitment, but for others the granting of a wish from our Wishing Washing Lines or an occasional helping hand to participate in a community activity is all that is needed. It’s entirely up to you.

Can organisations be FaNs?

All kinds of organisations and businesses can be “corporate FaNs”, committed to supporting their local care homes in all kinds of ways. We are happy for organisations that are actively supporting FaNs to publicise their contributions and use our logo (and we have guidance to help if you want to mention individual residents)

Can I choose a care home where I'd like to get involved to support the residents?

The link between a FaN and a care home is entirely up to the individual or organisation and the care home manager. The first care home you approach may not be able to immediately welcome you as a FaN, but don't let that put you off! Care home managers are ultimately responsible for what goes on in their homes, and for the safety and wellbeing of their residents. That means they have the final say as to who (and how many) they would like to be actively involved with the home and the people who live and work there. If you would like to be a FaN but don’t know where to start we will be happy to help.

A lot of care homes are commercial businesses. Why should we volunteer to do things with residents? Isn't that their job?

The role of our FaNs is to benefit the individual older people who live in care homes. Their main job of the Care Home is to provide accommodation, full board and personal care for their residents, many of whom are in need of very high levels of support. Many homes already work hard to build and maintain positive and fruitful links with their local communities, but they can’t do it all. If friends and neighbours choose to help, there is so much more we can do, especially for individual residents with interests which cannot easily be catered for within a care home setting and those who don't want to participate in 'group activities' within the care home.

Do I need a background check (DBS) to be a FaN?

It is important to be sure that people living in care homes are not in any way at risk from the people who are there to help them. Most people having regular contact with “vulnerable adults” on a paid or voluntary basis have to undergo a check to place to make sure they have no relevant police record. Some spent or minor convictions or issues are acceptable.
Adult FaNs who visit frequently may need to have a DBS (you may know this by its old name - a CRB check). Occasional visitors and those who are not left alone with individual residents may not need them. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the care home manager to decide whether an individual visitor needs to be checked and to make the necessary arrangements. This is not something to worry about and there is no charge to the volunteer. The check is entirely confidential between the person concerned and the requesting organisation and the results are never disclosed to any other party.

Are FaNs volunteers insured?

If they are part of a local group, business, school etc FaNs volunteers are covered by the insurance carried by their own organisations. If you are volunteering with a resident from a Care Home as an individual you may be covered by the care home. If in doubt, you should check with your own organisation or with the care home.

What about insurance if I volunteer to transport people in my own car?

This is not normally classed as “business use” and most insurers are quite happy to treat this activity as part of your existing cover. However, you should always inform your insurer if you intend to act as a volunteer driver.

Is there a FaNs Code of Practice?

We don't ask you to 'sign up' to a code of practice, but ALL FaNs are expected to act with integrity and adhere to the principles summarise in our publicity leaflets and set out below. Most importantly, FaNs must always work within the policies and procedures required by the care home with which they work. These policies and procedures protect both you and the residents you are supporting.

FaNs Principles

  • FaNs is inclusive and non discriminatory. Anyone, of any age, who shares our belief and values, can be a FaN.
  • Organisations that support our aims can also be “corporate” FaNs.
  • Individual FaNs can be members of any organisation or none.
  • FaNs take a positive approach. We celebrate, build on and share what is good.
  • We respect the humanity, dignity and individuality of all those with whom we come into contact in whatever role we take as FaNs.
  • We respect the right of care home residents to choice, control, privacy and confidentiality.
  • We abide by the policies and rules of care homes we may visit as FaNs.