Fulfilled living in later life

Tuesday 5th March 2024

Calling all Christians: Your care home needs you!

Links with local churches help to enrich life for older people living in care homes, whether it’s through volunteering, group visits, coffee mornings or events. We hope these stories and ideas inspire you and your church to connect with your local care home...

Ruth Mockler, our Activities & Community Engagement (ACE) Facilitator at Luff House in Walton-on-the-Naze, shares how local Christians are making a difference

“Our local churches bless us in so many ways. We’re lucky to have Homelands Free Church right on our doorstep. Each Sunday, the church deacon helps walk across any family members who’d like to come. It’s lovely that they have this opportunity to hear the sermon, pray and enjoy fellowship. During the open prayer time, one of our family members, Bob, joins in with praying out loud, thanking God for things we’ve been learning at Luff House.

“Homelands also has a regular event called Friendship Friday. Our family members love going along for a chat and a cup of coffee and once a month there’s lunch, too. One of our family members, Peggy, makes a point of sitting on a different table from others from our care home – she wants to meet new people and she’s struck up a lovely friendship with a lady called Sheila. Another lady, Jo, is living with dementia.

Pilgrims Friend Luff House Homelands Church2

"Each week, she’ll look at our activity plan and make a note of Friendship Friday. She may not remember the details of what happened last time, but she knows she met nice friendly people and looks forward to going again."

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Pilgrims Friend Luff House Homelands2

“For example, recently we had Cliff Keeys from Walk Through the Bible visit us. He is an amazing storyteller and lots of our family members enjoyed hearing about his firsthand experiences of visiting biblical locations in Israel. One of our volunteers, Sandra, is very musical and leads sing-a-longs.

"I’m always amazed by the power of music to touch people in places that other things can’t – one of our ladies, Margaret, has advanced dementia and no longer talks, but she loves to sing along to a song she knows well.

“Just having church members come and sit is very much appreciated, giving our family members the chance to chat one-to-one. Bob, for example, loves having someone to discuss the Bible with.

“In the run-up to Christmas, one volunteer even invited some of our family members to visit their home for mince pies and a cup of tea. It was so wonderful for our family members to be doing something normal like going for a visit in someone’s home. They were overjoyed.

“What’s really nice is that our local churches work together to support us. For example, once a month Frinton Free Church has a dementia cafe and to get there we borrow the minibus from Homelands. They are very much of the view that they’d rather we were using it than it sat on their driveway.

“God made us all to be relational, not just with Him but also with each other, and that need for relationship remains the same however old you may be. For our family members, it’s so important that they can live lives in relationship with others, and I know our volunteers get a lot out of it, too. Many of them tell me how much they enjoy visiting and look forward to coming. It’s definitely a two-way thing.”

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Retired couple Maureen and Alan Tanner volunteer at Luff House

“Our daughter Jo actually works at Luff House as a visiting hairdresser but I’d never thought of volunteering there until I saw a sign advertising for volunteers at the St Michael’s annual Christmas Tree Festival where Luff House has a tree. I thought, ‘I could do that’ and when I spoke to my husband he said, ‘I could do that too.’

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"Now we’re regulars at Luff House, visiting once a week. We always have a lot of fun. Recently, an Elvis impersonator came in and I was up there dancing with the family members to all the old Elvis hits. We’ll do things like split into two teams to play Jenga, my team versus Alan’s team. There’s always a lot of camaraderie and friendly competition.

“What I really love is chatting to the family members and hearing all their stories. There’s one lady, Pamela, who used to teach blind children in Nigeria. I find it so fascinating. For us, it’s a privilege to go in and give something back. It always lifts our spirits and when we leave we’re always smiling.”

Koinonia Christian Care Home in Worthing has links with local charity, community group and church Storm Ministries. Ginny Cassell shares how visits by their children’s groups have been beneficial to young and old alike

Pilgrims Friend Koinonia Storm Club1

“As part of Storm Ministries we have a babies and preschoolers group called Stormie Tots. Koinonia have hosted the group in their lounge – the older people loved having the little ones around and the little ones just did their own thing charmingly. Lots of the older people remembered the nursery rhymes and sang along and joined in the dressing up for the stories.

“Our children’s performing arts group, Storm Club, has also been to do a performance. The theme was ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’ and the group did a dance to Hey by Leeland, sang ‘Oh Happy Day’ and did a drama presentation of ‘The Lost Sheep’. They also recited a memory verse from Ecclesiastes 4 starting, ‘Two are better than one...’

“The Storm Club performances are something we are keen to encourage as from our point of view we are teaching the children to want to use their skills to serve others. We encourage them to talk to residents before we begin the performance and at the end too, so it works well for both parties.”

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Pilgrims Friend Koinonia Church Engagement2
Pilgrims Friend Koinonia Church Engagement3


Many care homes host seasonal events, suitable for all ages. This can be a great first step if you’re looking to connect with a care home as a family. Look out for Easter egg hunts or summer and Christmas fairs.

For example, over the festive season, our home Middlefields House in Chippenham welcomed children through the doors with biscuit-making activities and story time with Santa.

Care Home Open Week is taking place 24th-30th June, with care homes across the country opening their doors to visitors with special events. Make a note to check the following website to find out what’s going on near you: www.championingsocialcare.org.uk

More on building links with care homes...

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Volunteers play a vital role in supporting the life of our homes. Come and be a friendly face and brighten someone's day

Pilgrims Friend Milward House Connect

How to connect your church to a care home

At Pilgrims’ Friend Society we see the enormous impact volunteers have for our family members. We’d encourage you and your congregation to build links to a care home near you