Debbie Tanner, our Development Officer, describes her role with the My Home Life Essex Community Association.


Debbie Tanner is our Development Officer who describes her role with the My Home Life Essex Community Association as “The best job I could wish for, with fresh challenges every day and a great team to inspire and support me.”

She’s been with us for four years and, with no wish to spare her blushes, we can tell you that she’s a gem. Our aim is to make the day-to-day experiences for older people living in care homes the best they can be and Debbie is helping us to spread the word and nurture and guide our volunteers to do just that. Here’s Debbie talking about what she does and what drives her:

“We’re always reading bad news stories about care homes but they’re not the whole picture and I know that there are lots of older people living in great care homes that never make the headlines.

Everyone, especially those who can no longer live independently, deserves to be shown respect and dignity and that’s what underpins my daily work.

“The My Home Life Essex movement is sharing good practice in care home management across the county and the My Home Life Essex Community Association is supporting this by providing volunteers to enrich the experiences of the care home residents, their families and care teams. So for me it’s about creating opportunities for the residents and staff in the homes to connect with their ‘neighbours’ in the community, and that can be individuals, schools, groups, organisations and clubs.

“The first step for us is to provide sound advice to older people and their families when they are considering that big move into residential care. It’s a difficult and emotional time and we help by providing an independent telephone advice line, which we do in partnership with Independent Age. My role is to liaise with them and offer one-to-one support for those callers who want it and I get real satisfaction from knowing that I’ve played a small part in helping someone to make a good life-choice.

“Of course volunteers are the key to our success and it’s my job to promote the MHLECA and recruit, train and look after those lovely people who give their time so freely. Everyone brings something different to the organisation and I’m proud to work with them. For example we have some who befriend care home residents who don’t have any family to visit them and others help residents with hobbies or share pastimes such as playing cards. I’m particularly proud of my part in setting up our Community Visitors pilot in Colchester which is proving so successful that we’re planning to roll it out across the county – do take a look our Community Visitors’ stories to find out more about this exciting community project!