The Friends of Alexander Care support the work of the home. Situated within Lewisham, London, Alexander Care Home is a purpose built 78 bedded care home offering Dementia, Nursing, Residential, Respite and End of Life care. Alexander 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 Alexander Care 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.
Christmas festivities - Alexander Care
This season, Friends of Alexander Care are making sure that no one is left out of the Christmas festivities. To make the season a little warmer for the residents at Alexander Care we delivered 12 bottles of prosecco for them enjoy. We wish all the residents and staff a very Merry Christmas from the Friends of Alexander Care team.
Tea Dance at Greenwich
Entelechy Arts enables those who have become a part of marginalised communities due to their disabilities, underlying health conditions or the ageing process to become contributing members of society through the arts. Established in 1989, artists worked alongside multi-disciplinary health teams to support adults with learning disabilities to move back into their communities.
They now specialise in art forms such as dancing, singing, theatre and more, in order to increase participation across generations and cultures, enabling residents, at organisations such as Friends of Care Homes, to feel present and engaged in the world.
Three nursing homes; Alexander, Tower Bridge and Aspen Court, made an appearance at the bi-annual Elizabethan Tea Dance held at the Queens house in Greenwich on Wednesday, 11th July 2018. Free lunch was provided, along with some ice cream on the terrace which turned out to be the highlight of the day for George, a resident from the Albany Care Home. Residents also had the chance to make new connections with the volunteers and elderly from other communities during this event.
Associate artist Christopher Green was welcomed, dressed up as Queen Elizabeth 1st. “He is being transformed isn’t he”, one resident said, amused as Chris was turning into the Queen. The Meet Me Choir, who are part of Walking through Walls (an Entelechy Arts programme commissioned by Attend), were invited to perform at the event and were then joined by the residents of the Alexander Care Home and other Meet Me members who had the chance of helping Chris transform into the Queen.
The residents were given the opportunity to appreciate some dancing from the Elizabethan era while a harp was being played in the background. “I think I am dreaming, I haven’t woken up yet; look at that harp, haven’t seen a harp in ages. You do spoil us”, said one resident from Alexander Care.
The event allowed the residents to form new memories as well as an opportunity to reminisce about their past. Harry from Alexander Care spoke fondly of his memories, “I was here in the 1950’s! I was in the navy. There was the navy hospital (pointing). We used to walk up and down here all dressed up in our officers uniform”. Another resident, Joan, also had the chance to reconnect with her past on the journey to the event, pointing out places where she lived and used to work. She also added, “The problem with where we live is that nothing much happens, it’s lovely to go out and see something different. I used to do all of this”.
As important as reminiscing is, so is forming new memories. A volunteer stated that the Tea Dance event allowed just that and added, “new memories are important as you get older”. Although some residents had forgotten the whole event by the time they got back on the bus, they said that they had had a wonderful time and their family members had also noticed a significant difference in their mood.
Participating in interactive arts allows people to connect with those from similar marginalised communities, to feel productive and to have an active role in society. Entelechy Arts played a big role in making a positive impact on those who attended, by simply allowing the residents to be productive, which Harry would agree with, “that was great because you really feel like you’ve done something with your day”. It demonstrated the effects that interactive arts can have on those who feel excluded and help them feel a part of active society.
Friends of Alexander – Garden Project
On 24th May 2018 Friends of Alexander received a grant from Tesco’s Bags of Help to purchase garden furniture and a range of tactile plants.
Friends of Alexander are a group of enthusiastic volunteers who aim to improve the well-being of the residents of Alexander Care Home. Friends of Alexander can now support residents in gardening activities to help them stay healthy and socially engaged.
The benefits of gardening are endless but most importantly it is an excellent exercise. Moving around in the garden and looking after the plants means the residents will be able to increase physical strength, mobility and hand grip without putting excessive strain on their bodies.
Thanks to an improved garden, residents will have the ability to harvest their own plants which will be a perfect topic to discuss with others over a cup of tea at the new tables and chairs. A sense of accomplishment in plant growing will give residents a boost of confidence and improve their mental well-being. Additionally, gardening outdoors means spending more time in the sun. Thanks to this residents will notice a positive change in their mood as well as find themselves more stress-relieved.
Gardening in a care home is a way for residents to get together. With this project, specially-trained volunteers will engage with the residents to cultivate and enjoy the gardening hobby together. A responsibility shared between the residents will give more opportunities to socialise, build new friendships, and eventually bond with other residents or volunteers.
Spending more time in the garden is an opportunity for an exciting learning process. Residents will have the ability to gain new skills and spark an interest in something that they might not have had an interest in before. This means that regular garden-tending will keep the residents’ mind active which is a helpful technique in Alzheimer’s and dementia care.
With the combined efforts of Friends of Alexander, the staff and the volunteers at Alexander Care Home, the residents will be given a therapeutic chance to make the most out of their garden and health, and as a result, age gracefully.
Alexander care home evaluation
People present: Residents -Joan 1, Joan 2, Lucille, Mercia, June, George, Vincent,
Well -being team-Simon, Doreen,
Artists -Charlene and Zoe
Facilitator – Rebecca
-A gentle warm up and tai chi to bring us together
-Achievements, Benefits, concerns
-Ideas for Mercers bid
-The three tea dances- logistics and ideas
-Visiting Masie in her room for her evaluation as she wasn’t feeling well
Joan 1: “You have done a lot of things that everyone can feel able to do. It makes a huge difference.
Artists: “The communal event in here has grown so that it is no longer a workshop, but an event. We all really shake up the dining area; mixing everyone rather than residents kept to their units, so it’s a good energy.”
Joan 1: “We all mix up in the sessions – Important to listen to everyone, talk to everyone – it’s better for you rather than sitting down doing nothing.
Doreen: “It’s better to bring people out of the unit rather than go to the unit. With these sessions we get to mix residents from all over the nursing home together, normally they never get to meet each other.
Joan 1: “Yes, you work with people who are not well and who should have a lot more people interested in them.”
Charlene: For Meryl she normally never used to come out of her room, but now she comes into the group despite being in a lot of pain.
Joan 2 read us one of her favourite poems – Changing of the guard at Buckingham palace. It was the first time she had done this. We spoke about maybe her being accompanied by the double bass player on the day of the in house tea dance, if she was interested in performing this.
Other poems ready to be performed at the tea dance by Mercia and Joan1:
Little blue Apron
And a request from Simon –Excerpt from Macbeth. Maybe the witch’s piece.
Then for George and Lucille a drumming improvisation with the Sptiz.
The Mercers bid
We thought about key words like spirituality and nature that were in the bid.
Joan recited William words worth poem about nature and daffodils in response.
The group spoke about spirituality and god-ness as:
– is something in all of us – sense of something beyond us.
-Being interconnected beyond our differences
-thread going through each of us and how the artists are already doing that with actual fabric in the sessions.
– helping each other out.
– Something in us and the bigger picture – silence can bring us closer to it.
– God is in the details and small moments we don’t notice.
-Wellbeing team saw it as body, mind, soul, spirit interconnected.
Building links with other organisations and spaces in the neighbourhood
In terms of nature there are many lovely green spaces near the nursing home where they could go to explore ideas further.
There are the gardens at St Margaret’s church who are very keen for the residents to experience their therapeutic garden. And they are keen to make a link with the Lady well centre round the corner from the home, and their garden spaces.
Everyone in the group wondered why they couldn’t form a link with the nursery school next door. Doreen had tried and the nursing school were concerned about children being scared. Maybe an arts event will open doors?
Joan 2 felt that the generations need to be mixing “I always feel I need to be doing something with them. Grandchildren need this.”
Rebecca visited Meryl in her room so she could contribute to the evaluation:
“By what I noticed, when I am with the group it’s certainly everyone is enjoying themselves. They want you for the dancing and music.
Even if you are that incapacitated and you can’t do the exercises, it’s nice to be in the group and watching and being part of something. I can still use my body, kick my arms….”
“It gets you out of your room, gets you with other people, even if you don’t talk, you see them, feel them. If you are just in your room – it’s just the nurses.
Great advantage is to get out of this room. I enjoy my own company up to a point, but I enjoy other company as well.
I do love the dancing. My husband and I use to do ballroom competitions and we won many of them. Love watching it. I am working through myself watching others do it – I do it. I think about the different steps they could take when watching the dancers.
The artists are so genuine and warm, not airy fairy where you feel like there is no substance behind it – there is no warmth when that happens, it’s just outward show.
Rebecca to send fliers of both the Albany and QEH tea dance to Doreen and Simon
Rebecca arranged a separate meeting with Simon and Doreen to go through their in house tea dance.
New Project - Friends of Alexander- Walking Through Walls
The Friends of Alexander are delighted to announce that we have been successful in our application to receive funding from Awards for All, to begin a new project at Alexander Care Home.
This project will create new social spaces, in which we will deliver 22 workshops over a year, and would involve the local community. The workshops will be related to the Arts and will include music and dance theatre, to entertain and include the residents, families and friends, and volunteers. Each art session will be 2 hours and will include a group workshop for up to 20 residents and family members supported by staff and volunteers in a communal space. The second group will involve one-to-one work for those who are unable to leave their rooms.
The project will be specifically designed with the residents in mind and will work to encourage cross-generational exchange. Creative professionals will work to undertake outreach work with activities co-ordinators. These music, dance and story-telling workshops will give the residents something to look forward to and will help them find new ways to express themselves, especially for those who struggle with communication. The workshops will culminate into two events, one in the care home halfway through the year, and one journey to the Albany Tea Dance, marking the end of the year. The first event will bring into the home a specialist 21st Century Tea dance including live dance music from London’s top jazz musicians with the Spitz jazz collective. This will be an opportunity for the youth groups to perform alongside residents. The event will be open to everyone in the care home and the local community.
Throughout the project, the workshops will be photographed and documented so that the residents and families can cherish the memories and look back on what they achieved. This project will be an exciting and social opportunity for the residents to meet new people and rediscover their talents, finding new and interesting ways to communicate, and having something fun to look forward to!
Ambient Jam – Alexander Care Home
On 7th September 2018, Friends of Alexander Care Home received a grant from Awards for All to launch an Ambient Jam project in partnership with Entelechy Arts.
Ambient Jam is a project which enables elderly with profound disabilities and dementia to engage in multi-sensory improvisation workshops. As part of the projects, artists and volunteers explore ways of communication and creative expression with Alexander Care Home residents. This includes attending to sound, pulse, voice, touch light, tactile objects and smell. Residents can take ownership of their artistic expression and dictate the pace at which it takes place, as artists actively respond to their partners’ non-verbal cues, interacting as equals and allowing the movement to evolve.
Whilst some aspects of Ambient Jam sessions have been extremely beneficial and served as a physical and cognitive exercise for residents, Entelechy Arts’ tailored work has meant that dozens of elderly residents who are more likely to experience social isolation have the opportunity to interact with others in a supportive and loving environment. Entelechy Arts have been demonstrating for years that not only does the artistic improvisation approach complement physical exercise, but it improves the wellbeing of those with profound and multiple disabilities in a far more holistic fashion. Danny Ruta, the Direction of Public Health in Lewisham said: “With the use of arts in health it’s either come from a biomedical model and it’s considered a therapy. […] This is coming from a completely different model, which is about passion for art. It’s completely holistic, not really about health or learning, it’s about enriching the quality of a person’s life”.
Thanks to the passion and effort of the volunteers and facilitators of Friends of Alexander Care Home and Entelechy Arts, Ambient Jam opens the door to meaningful and mindful relationships between people, artistic movement and music.
If you want to find out more about Entelechy Arts’ work and events, explore their website at http://entelechyarts.org/.
Friends of Alexander Care Committee meeting
On 2nd November 2016 the Friends of Alexander Care held their Committee meeting
A funding bid has been made to finance an arts project and the Friends and care home are hoping to work with Barclays and NCS to develop and maintain the garden.
Visit of Duke of York
On Tuesday 11th October 2016, the Duke of York visited Attends offices to be updated on our work.
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.
Eric has his 100th Birthday
Resident and Friends committee member Eric celebrates at the home.
Resident and Friends committee member Eric celebrates at the home.
Eric Hawkins celebrated his 100th birthday with a party at Alexander Care Home in Lewisham on Saturday 24th July 2015.
Three days later, he became a committee member of the newly formed Friends of Alexander Care.
David Wood, interim Chair of the committee said “I was delighted to be at the home on Saturday, and meet Eric and his family on such a special day. Christen and the team had put on a fantastic afternoon, and I was thrilled they asked me to be part of it.”
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