The Friends of Acacia Mews support the work of the home situated within Hatfield, Hertfordshire, Acacia Mews is a purpose-built care home offering Dementia, Nursing, Residential, Respite and End of Life care. Acacia Mews Care Home also provides specialist care for young people with physical disabilities.
The Friends aim to improve the quality of life of the residents of the care home by working with staff, residents and relatives.
The Friends of Acacia Mews Care Home are looking to develop services on the site. We have found that this is particularly valued by some residents who through deteriorating health do not have the confidence to come out of their rooms. Alongside this, we support the care homes’ activities’ coordinators by providing extra pairs of hands during organised activity sessions and outings.
Mina Stoykova - Case Study
Volunteering with the Friends of Acacia Mews Care Home has definitely changed Mina’s mind-set. Having the opportunity to make a difference to lives of the residents at Acacia Mews is a feeling Mina describes as ‘’becoming addictive- being able to bring joy to someone’s life, feeling useful and needed changes your outlook on the world.’’
As an employee of Eisai, a pharmaceutical company which has a mission to make the healthcare industry more accessible to all, Mina was invited to Acacia Mews to gain more insight on some of the ways the company could help vulnerable people. Mina’s first visit to the care home during the Christmas period was enough to convince her to become a regular volunteer. Seeing residents light up at the sight of the Christmas decorations was incredibly rewarding for Mina, and encouraged her to take part in a range of activities at Acacia Mews, such as accompanying residents on visits to local events, or simply sitting and chatting with them in the care home- anything to make even part of their day more worthwhile is something she finds satisfying.
Mina describes the personal bonds she’s made with several of the residents, and details how she likes being able to help and giving back to people who need it more than her- ‘’interacting with senior residents is an experience dear to my heart, because they remind me of my own grandparents.’’
The time Mina spent at Acacia Mews was an invaluable experience. Volunteering with the residents has allowed her to develop personal skills; Mina values communication, but her time at Acacia Mews has shown her not everyone is capable of this. While she previously might have gotten frustrated with people who could not express themselves clearly, her experiences with residents have given her the chance to see things from a different perspective- ‘’being patient, mindful and selfless are things I’ve learnt at Acacia- being there meant I had to focus on them and their needs rather than myself, which is something I’ve definitely come to appreciate.’’
Mina is grateful to Acacia Mews care home for freeing her from the expectations she came in with-‘’if I had known how rewarding volunteering was, I would have begun earlier!’’
Esra Mohammed - Case Study
Esra has wanted to pursue a career revolved around caring for as long as she can remember. Currently undertaking her Level 3 certificate in Health and Social Care, Esra was drawn to volunteering with the Friends of Acacia Mews Care Home because she simply loved helping others- along with volunteering at Acacia Mews, Esra is also a volunteer at Lister Hospital.
Following a visit to her college by a representative of Acacia Mews, Esra did not hesitate to apply. Esra believed the experience with the elderly would be valuable; working with residents at Acacia Mews has certainly been a knowledgeable experience.
She recognises the importance of befriending residents; something as simple as sitting, chatting and bonding with them makes a huge difference to their day. Although Esra was surprised her presence could make a difference, she finds it works both ways- as much as the residents appreciate her company, Esra loves being able to be there for them as well. She admits she ‘’didn’t know communicating with the elderly was that easy, I was expecting it to be hard- but once you bond with residents, you realise they just need someone to talk to and comfort them as much as you do.’’
Building a connection with residents is essential, Esra describes- ‘’it is important to build trust as a service provider with a service user. If there’s no trust, there’s no communication.’’ She credits her time at Acacia Mews as helpful in developing on her communication skills, as she’s found she’s learned to become more confident in herself.
Overall, Esra is finding her time at Acacia Mews Care Home as the perfect place to express her commitment to helping others, and looks forward to continue volunteering.
Christmas festivities - Acacia Mews
This season, Friends of Acacia Mews are making sure that no one is left out of the Christmas festivities. To make the season a little warmer for the residents at Acacia Mews we delivered 12 bottles of prosecco for them enjoy. We wish all the residents and staff a very Merry Christmas from the Friends of Acacia Mews team.
Acacia Mews NCS visit
On Monday 16th July, NCS visited the Acacia Mews Care Home. NCS is a programme that brings together community organisations and individuals to build a stronger society. This project lasted for 5 days and the group had different activities set in place for each day.
On the first day the group met with 15 Acacia Mews residents. They all had the chance to be introduced to one another while serving the residents ice cream as they were enjoying the sunny day in the garden.
On Tuesday, the NCS group came back to the care home to spend more time with the residents. As for activities, they played board games with the residents and also spent more time in the garden.
Wednesday was the project preparation day. NCS went back to the youth club to create personalised cards for each of the residents they had met with previously.
Thursday was a hands on garden project the NCS group spent their time tidying the garden, painting all the garden borders and shed to make it attractive for the tea party they have planned for the following day.
Friday was the day of the tea party. The NCS group served tea and cakes to the residents whilst they were in the garden again and chatted with them.
After the tea party was over, the group went into the lounges and residents’ rooms to hand them their personalised cards. The outcome was delightful, “it has made my day” one resident expressed, another residents response was, “come here, let me give you a hug.” Their idea was a great finish to the eventful week.
Multisensory Equipment project - Acacia Mews
Friends of Acacia Mews Care Home received a £895 grant from Co-Op Community Fund to run a Multisensory Equipment project.
With this project, we will purchase a specialist sensory case for the elderly as a tool to exercise sensory perception. The case will include a variety of equipment for residents with dementia and those who might need some sensory stimulation.
The sensory case contains tools which will give the residents the opportunity to exercise visual, olfactory and auditory perception. Musical gloves will give the residents the opportunity to play music with ease and the fruits card game will allow them to recognise and match fragrances with fruits.
Additionally, cushions and armchair covers of various textures will constitute a tool to explore tactile perception.
The kit will be a chance to build a bridge between trained volunteers and the residents, form new meaningful relationships developed through leisure whilst simultaneously improving their physical health. Our volunteers will contribute to improving the lives of residents by exercising day-to-day tasks which involve sensory stimulation. Thanks to this project, residents will gain confidence in recognising textures, sounds and scents and, consequently, improve their concentration and memory.
The Multisensory Equipment project is one more step forward in making residents’ lives more enjoyable and meaningful.
Katrina Wright - Case Study
Katrina has volunteered with Friends of Acacia Mews for 2 years.
Katrina used to be a personal care worker; she had to retire because progressive arthritis in her wrist made in difficult to work. Previous to caring, Katrina used to work in retail as a store manager, “I felt like I wanted to do a bit more than just standing in the shop”. Katrina changed her retail working schedule to a part-time basis in order to begin her career as a care worker, “the role in which you get to help people is much more rewarding”, she said. Following her retirement 4 years ago, she decided to dedicate her time to volunteering 2-3 times a week at Acacia Mews Care Home.
Katrina learned about Acacia Mews when her auntie stayed in a hospital followed by her residency at Acacia Mews.
Katrina was already involved with Acacia Mews Care Home when David and Nichole arrived at the home with a proposition to form Friends of Acacia which Katrina is now part of.
Katrina is a mother of 3 grown-up children who come and visit the residents from time to time, “it’s marvellous what can be achieved with residents when volunteers get involved”, she explained.
Volunteering enables Katrina and others at the care home to tackle loneliness that residents might experience, “there are so many elderly without family, being able to help the residents means the world to them and to us”.
Friends of Acacia Mews do what they can to improve the well-being of their residents. Friends have managed to get a grant to amend new plants, buy furniture and install a water feature in the garden where the residents can socialise and relax in, “it’s nice to talk to them and add a new aspect to their routine”, Katrina explained.
Katrina started her volunteering experience prepared for the challenges that working with people with Alzheimer’s and dementia entail, “my auntie tells me about her trip to Oxford Circus and what she saw at Mark&Spencer’s although I know she hasn’t moved from her chair”, she explained. “I had a full training as a care worker. It is really important to remember that you are entering their world and need to know how to act in it.”
In order to help someone, you need to enter their world. And, by entering someone’s world, you make then not feel lonely anymore. Katrina spends her time with the residents whether by having a conversation or doing a jigsaw together. She takes the residents for peaceful walks in the newly refurbished garden.
Some residents at their final stages of life seek closure and comfort in faith. Katrina, an active member of the local church and hymn service deliverer, has previously helped residents pass with dignity following their wishes.
As part of the recently launched End of Life Sitters project, Katrina was able to provide companionship and support to a resident in end of life care a few hours before her passing, “I stayed with her daughter and son, gave the resident a hand massage”, she explained. “There are people who don’t even have family, it’s so important to have a group to help out”.
Volunteers like Katrina are also of tremendous help to the Acacia Mews staff, “they are working so hard to look after all the people, especially through the night”, Katrina said. By taking on some of the teams’ workload and spending time with the residents, Katrina has developed strong bonds with people at Acacia Mews, “I love how they call my name as soon as I come in and make me feel welcome in their home”, she said.
“11 years ago when my husband died, many people helped me when I needed someone to be there, now it’s my turn to be there for someone” – helping others gives Katrina “a great pleasure
“Before I began volunteering, I didn’t realise how important 1-2-1 interactions were to the residents”, Katrina confessed. “There’s a huge need for volunteers
Friends of Acacia Mews – End of Life Sitters Project
On 27th April 2017 an End of Life Sitters project was launched at Acacia Mews Care Home thanks to a grant from Awards from All.
The project was created following a series of consultations with family members, residents and staff of the care home we found a strong need for a service that focused entirely on the residents’ comfort in their final hours of life.
The Friends of Acacia Mews provide training for volunteers to offer companionship and emotional support as well as deliver simple relaxation techniques or a soothing touch to help residents find comfort and peace.
Our aim is that no resident will die alone. We believe that people deserve a holistic care that is tailored to the individual’s needs. Those who approach the end of life have the right to a farewell with dignity and compassion, and with regard to their last wishes. Cultural and religious ceremonies might be some of the residents’ wishes as well, which Friends recognise and fulfil to help residents find spiritual meaning and closure.
Local volunteers will play a key role in the delivery of End of Life Sitters project. Providing this opportunity for people to make a difference to their elderly neighbours can break down islands within the local community. Local residents will be given the chance to connect and spend time with the residents at the very end of their life. The initiative will strengthen Hatfield’s community as local volunteers learn from and engage with the older generation in a humbling experience. This project is a chance to learn that care homes are not places to be afraid of or to avoid.
Friends of Acacia Mews Committee meeting
The Friends held their first meeting of 2017 on Wednesday 25th January
Among the matters discussed it was highlighted that funding bids had recently been submitted with the funding to be used to train volunteers as End of Life sitters and also to buy mobile multi sensory equipment for residents with dementia. There are also plans to hold a summer fete
Friends of Acacia Mews Committee meeting
On the 24th October 2016 Friends of Acacia Mews held their Committee meeting
6 volunteers have now been cleared to volunteer in the home and another 12 are going through the recruitment process. The Friends are currently aiming to start an End of Life sitters project and will be applying for an Awards 4 All grant to fund this
Visit of the Duke of York
On Tuesday 11th October 2016, the Duke of York visited Attends offices to be updated on our work.
As part of his role, he is patron of each of the friends groups in care homes.
Pictured here, he is talking to Nichole, project manager, and Kahlil who is newly appointed to the team. He was delighted to hear of the progress to date.
Friends of Acacia Mews inaugural meeting
On the 13th July 2016 The Friends group held their first meeting at the care home
On the 13th July 2016 The Friends group held their first meeting at the care home to formally appoint a Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer and Committee Members, to agree the constitution, adopt policies and procedure and discuss business related to formation of the group. We were joined by relatives, residents, staff and volunteers.
We know your time is valuable and any time you can spare for us will make a big difference. You could volunteer at a one off event or regularly, it is entirely up to you.
If you don’t see a volunteering opportunity to suit you then please get in touch because we could develop an opportunity just for you. If you would like to volunteer please download the application form and return by email to email@example.com