Everyone has heard the horror stories about Care Homes. They pop up in the newspaper, on your television, and even by word-of-mouth. Such tales are inexplicably different from my experience; Care Homes can be a loving, warm environment which helps residents and families through the most difficult of times. Sick of the terrible reputation our profession has, we decided that Penny Pot would attempt to be the antithesis of every Panorama show and newspaper clipping. We decided that our residents did not want to live in a house, but a community.

In January 2012, we resolved that we would inaugurate programmes and activities that the home had never explored before. Part of the reason for this was to create and foster the sense of community we so desperately wanted our residents to feel. We began with a sponsored walk, intended to raise awareness of Dementia, whilst breaking down preconceived notions that have made it a taboo, and poorly understood condition. The walk’s participants included the staff of Penny Pot, friends and families, and even a (sprightly) resident! The walkathon was so successful and raised so much money that we decided to continue in our fundraising efforts.

In the summer of 2012, when we had begun to raise a substantial amount of money, we had to make the decision of where to spend it. The management team selected a range of options that they thought the residents would be interested in and benefit from, and then presented these ideas to our residents, who were shown samples of the products. These included things such as the Dementia Digital Reminiscent Therapy, a Home Cinema and a Home Bar.

After a lengthy discussion on the different options, the residents voted for their favourite, and we chose to purchase the WiiFit system; an interactive gaming technology which combines video games with exercise. With the WiiFit, we also purchased 3 exercise machines to be used with the system (including an exercise bike, an elliptical cross-trainer and a treadmill) which are adapted and specialized for seniors. The residents chose the WiiFit because they perceived it as a group-based, 2 fun way to exercise, improving both their individual health, and enabling them to engage in an enjoyable activity which stimulated both their body and mind. The residents are extremely happy with the purchase.

After the success of this fundraising programme, the excitement the residents feel in anticipation of the events, and the fun we have had building our community and interacting with the wider community, we have decided to make this an ongoing project. We will continue our events, adding more into the mix, and build a positive culture within the home, and our wider home. The residents ave already proposed their next fundraising aim; purchasing a beach hut with which they can find themselves transformed to the beaches of their youth, enjoying nature, reliving happy memories, and indulging in the simple pleasures that life (and Clacton on Sea) has to offer.