Creating communities

Through My home Life Essex and our other contacts with care homes across the County, we know that many homes have developed lively communities and productive links with their neighbours.

As a result, the lives of their residents are enriched with a wide range of relationships, activities and opportunities within and outside the home. We also know that building and maintaining these links is a time consuming business and that few homes have the resources to make it a priority.

Should care homes be expected to take full responsibility for this as well as every other aspect of the lives and well being of their residents? We think not. That is why we have developed the FaNs programme. Through this programme, we intend to make available practical help and support to care home professionals who wish to take advantage of the potential resources that exist in their surrounding communities – the friends and neighbours of care homes and those who live in them.

The three main strands of the work of FaNs are described here. We plan to develop networks of people – individuals, organisations and businesses – that are willing to offer active support in various ways to local care homes that wish to work with them. We will also promote communication amongst all those with a common interest in the quality of life enjoyed by care home residents, to share good ideas and good practice.

The third strand is direct support to care home professionals to take advantage of the opportunities offered by FaNs. We plan to develop:

  • A directory of ideas, case studies, toolkits, guidelines and other information relating to “community engagement”, intergenerational work etc
  • A “human library” of people who are willing to share their experiences and ideas and support others wishing to follow their example
  • Individual coaching and mentoring to help plan and put into action specific projects
  • A dedicated advice line to make it as easy as possible for people to get information and locate the resources they need

We are particularly interested to hear from managers and others who may be willing to share specific ideas and experiences and act as informal mentors or “buddies” to colleagues who would like to do something similar.