The Friends of Avery Place support the work of the Acer Court and Alder House Care home situated within Nottingham. Avery Place is a purpose built care home offering Dementia, Nursing, Residential, Respite and End of Life care. Avery Place 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 Avery Place Care Home are looking to 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.
Volunteer Case Study - Catherine Milne
Catherine Milne is an active part of a church local to the Avery Place Care Home. Friends of Avery Place first contacted the minister at the church to ask if anyone from the church was willing to come along and join the care home family. Catherine agreed to identify a group of people who would be willing to help and coordinate their input.
In her spare time, Catherine enjoys playing the piano, walking and going out in the countryside, but also loves to help others whenever she has the chance. After taking early retirement from her job in the pharmaceutical industry she realised that she wanted “to serve and to do things for other people,” she stated.
In the last six years of her retirement, Catherine has been mainly working with children in the education sector. Due to the immense rewarding feeling she received from this, she was inspired to give her time to those who are on the other end of the age spectrum.
Catherine thoroughly enjoys her time spent at the care home. Although working in a care home may have some challenges at times, she knows exactly how to overcome them, “there is one lady who lives with severe dementia and she does not always remember me, but by talking to her I can get her engaged,” she said. “Eventually you find something that means something to them, I found that she enjoyed music and she used to play the piano so we ended up singing a song and she remembered the words of the songs even better than I did.” Catherine’s greatest motivation to volunteer is the rewarding feeling she gets as a result of every visit she makes to the care home, “you get that sort of rewarding moment a lot at the care home.”
The Avery Place family value the help that the volunteers give, and in attempts to make everyone feel more connected to the care home, they set up meetings with all the staff and volunteers. The aim of one meeting was to encourage more befriending throughout the home, starting off by making a list of the residents who do not have regular visitors to make sure that they are not on their own for too long. It is important for the care home that Catherine and the rest of the volunteering team are involved in all the plans that are set out for the residents, making everyone feel like a vital part of the team.
Through her time spent at Avery Place, she has improved her communication skills by listening actively to the residents and knowing when and how to start a conversation with them. Catherine believes that her patience, openness and her willingness to listen has allowed her to be a good and efficient volunteer at the care home, and would also help anyone else to be the best volunteer that they can be. “Maybe any skills on the musical side which you could share,” by sharing these skills, the residents can feel that they are learning something new.
What has touched Catherine the most through this experience is, “the feeling that you are able to give something of yourself or share part of yourself for the benefit of others.” Through this successful experience, she would recommend volunteering work to anyone, “it is worth it because it gives you such a good feeling that you have actually done something to help someone.”
Joshua Mercatelli - Case Study
Joshua is a 19-year-old college graduate whose life took a big turn as a result of his volunteering experience. Once a multiplayer video game enthusiast planning a career as a graphic designer, Joshua is now a full-time carer at the Avery Place Care Home.
Joshua’s journey at Avery Place began as a volunteer. His family has always been involved with mental health and charity sectors which has slowly been sparking Joshua’s interest in volunteering. Initially, Joshua thought he might not be suitable for the role – the stigma of a “depressing care home” had put him off from taking an initiative for a while. “In the beginning I wasn’t convinced much but eventually helping people has become something I really wanted to do”, he explained.
Avery Place Care Home is one of the places where Friends of Care Homes have formed a group of volunteers supporting residents as well as carers. Joshua was glad to learn that Avery Place happened to be near his family home, “it really isn’t far away, and my parents have known about the care home and have been encouraging me to give it a try”, Joshua said. Joshua was welcomed to a delightful care home with a team of helpful staff, “one of the members helped me with the job application when I decided to shift from volunteering to working full-time”, he explained. Joshua has found the volunteer – staff transition quite smooth thanks to the training provided, “I got a closer look at the equipment and completed and on-line course which was tremendously informative”, he explained.
During his volunteering experience, Joshua took part in organised activities such as Tai Chi, music sessions and meetings with mums and toddlers. However, his involvement has become more carer-focused over time. The more time Joshua has spent working with the residents, the more attached to them he has become, “there is one resident I particularly get along with”, he reflected. “He’s very open about his past and shares his memories with me whenever he remembers them”, Joshua explained. It is the little moments he shares with the residents that make a change every day, “I love learning about the residents’ little quirks and interests and make them the subject of the conversation”, he said.
Being a carer has also opened a window of possibilities to provide more gratifying, focused care “there was a lot I could do as a volunteer, but being a member of staff means I can physically care for the residents which I could not do before”, he reflected. “I couldn’t help a resident into a chair because I was not a qualified carer a while ago, which was an utterly heart-breaking situation to be in”, Joshua confessed.
“There wasn’t anything I did not feel prepared for when first coming to the care home”, Joshua explained. His family members have volunteered in care homes in the past, therefore he was aware of potential challenges that working with the residents might entail. “Residents with dementia tend to forget you all the time but it doesn’t matter as long as you can have a chat with them and keep them company”, he explained.
Volunteering and being a full-time carer have made a huge impact on Joshua’s personality. The sense of accomplishment stemming from a rewarding experience has boosted his confidence and helped him develop a more open approach to people “I used to be a quite closed person but this experience makes me feel like I got this”, he explained. “I think this is definitely something one should try, whether it be volunteering or being a carer. I would recommend making that decision to anyone.”
Multisensory Equipment project - Avery Place
Friends of Avery Place Care Home received a £1000 grant from Greggs Foundation 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.
Volunteer Case Study - Aleena Rahman
Aleena is a 17-year-old A-level student preparing for her exams to enter a biochemistry course at university.
Aleena keeps herself busy at all times: boxing, kickboxing, volunteering at a mental health institute, extra-curricular courses, or simply reading – you name it. Despite having numerous interests and studying for her exams, Aleena spends a few hours every Saturday volunteering at the Averyplace Care Home.
Aleena decided to begin her volunteering experience after her Grandma’s cancer diagnosis as well as her next-door-neighbour’s dementia. The care home was “just around the corner”, so Aleena didn’t think twice. “I like caring for people and I think it’s really rewarding”. Aleena lists the hardships of volunteering: “The suffering is hard to observe. Also working with residents with dementia might be challenging; one resident asked me about 10 times who I was and what I was doing there, all within 20 minutes.”
Although Aleena found it difficult to develop relationships with residents with dementia, she has worked with residents with whom she “managed to form relationships she would never have if she hadn’t decided to volunteer”. Aleena’s visits in the care home became less frequent due to her exams which has made some of the residents quite upset.
Aleena reflects on everything she’s learned at the Care Home: “I didn’t even know I had so much patience. Since I started volunteering, I’ve become more understanding and my communication skills have improved, too.”
Aleena has found passion in helping people; “I think what makes me a good volunteer is my hard work and dedication. I always try to do my best and I’m genuinely caring by nature.”
The volunteer emphasises the importance of commitment and patience in charity work; “I believe those are the key attributes in volunteering” – she adds. She has observed how motivation and willingness to put time and effort into interacting with residents benefit their well-being. “Seeing them smile is the most gratifying feeling.”
If it wasn’t for her work at Averyplace Care Home, Aleena would have not heard the captivating stories from the residents. “They used to live so differently at their age. I love listening to stories about the war, the toys they used to play when they were little.” Aleena organised group conversations, one-to-one sessions or simple daily activities. “Daily sparkle is my favourite. That’s when the residents get to listen to the music from when they were young and just talk about the past. It’s really heart-warming.”
“Even making them a cup of tea makes them happy and it is highly gratifying that I am able to make them happier and make a change.” She has learnt that small things can make a big difference to residents.
Volunteering has encouraged Aleena to pursue her career in a patient-centred environment, fuelling her motivation to do her best in her final exams and reach her goals.
Friends of Avery Place - Trolley Service
On 12th May 2017, Friends of Avery Place Care Home received a grant from the Awards for All to launch a Trolley Service.
The service offers residents of Avery Place Care Home a range of goods to purchase including books, music records, cards, toiletries, gifts, and sweets. The residents can make independent choices and treat themselves or their loved ones by choosing items from the “shop on wheels”.
Not only does Trolley Service respond to residents’ need of purchasing basic goods, but it also provides an opportunity to chat with volunteers on duty. Visiting the residents’ room on a regular basis allows volunteers to engage with residents and brighten their day with a chat. Conversation – a seemingly simple act – can make a great impact on an elderly person’s sense of well-being. The Trolley Service also captures some of the elements of life happening outside of the care home which residents long for the most. Incidental chit-chats resulting from the service stand a chance to become a beginning of friendships and meaningful relationships between residents and volunteers, allowing volunteers to play an active role in making residents’ lives more enjoyable.
Friends of Avery Place committee meeting
The Friends Committee met on the 29th November 2016 at Acer Court
The Friends discussed how to recruit more volunteers locally and projects that we could begin fundraising for.
Visit of 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 Avery Place inaugural meeting
On the 4th July 2016 The Friends group held their first meeting at the care home
On the 4th 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 firstname.lastname@example.org