Fulfilled living in later life

Friday 29th May 2020

Keeping community connections alive

From embracing Skype to knitting with a purpose, Evington Home, Leicester, is staying connected with the outside world

On a Saturday morning in March a social worker noticed the empty car park in a care home she was visiting. “Normally, this would be full of visitors, but they’re all having to stay away because of the coronavirus crisis,” she wrote on social media. Although the restrictions are well understood, they are tough on residents and the challenge is how to keep essential connections alive now that visitors are barred.

Activities Coordinator Andrea Louis had the answer. She took an iPad into our Evington Home and offered each resident a weekly face-to-face chat with their families by Skype. Most had never experienced anything like it and didn’t know what to expect. One was shocked at first, but said she’d like to try it again. Another said it was absolutely wonderful, and a mother was so pleased with her daughter’s calls that the daughter bought her an iPad which Andrea has set up so they can have Skype calls whenever they want. Andrea thinks it will catch on and continue long after isolation has ended.

Spiritual support is an important part of life at the home, with visiting speakers from local churches coming in to take services. Now they are giving them over Skype which is then cast to the large TV in the lounge so everybody can watch.

Connections with the wider local community are maintained through the well-established and much-loved activity of knitting. The knitting group makes hats and small items for the local premature baby unit and are blessed that they can continue to knit with a purpose, even while isolated. Knitting is known to lower blood pressure, reduce heart rate and levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, supporting the well-being of all who take part.

One initiative launched recently at the home was the Lego project. This project brought together children from a local primary school and residents, who were working together on building a display of a park. Lego helps manual dexterity and fine motor skills, while following instructions and interacting with the children keeps older minds active. Due to the coronavirus outbreak, children’s visits are now barred. However, the connection with the primary school continues. Children now write letters, cards and emails which are read out to residents, who then compose a collective response.

The Evington Home may be subject to lockdown, along with everyone else in the UK, but good communications ensure residents do not feel isolated.

This article appears in The Pilgrims' Magazine Summer 2020. Read the magazine here.

Find out how those living at Bethany Christian Home have been staying connected through letter writing.