The Friends of Cumberland Care Home support the work of the home situated within Mitcham. Cumberland is a purpose built care home offering Dementia, Nursing, Residential, Respite and End of Life care. Cumberland 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 Cumberland 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.
Nneka Ndukwe - Case Study
Nneka is a teacher at a primary school in South London, Croydon, and has been for around five years. Previously a student at University College London, Nneka obtained a bachelor’s degree in French. She also had the chance to work at a bilingual school after graduating. When she is not working, she likes to cook and focus on her fitness and well-being in general in her spare time, “I go to the gym and do some yoga from time to time, fitness is just very important to me”, she stated.
Nneka stumbled across the Friends of Care Homes website by searching online for volunteering opportunities around London, “in life, you kind of waste a lot of time and I just realised that I could give at least 2 hours a week to do something meaningful”, she said. “This particular volunteering role just spoke to me, because I work with kids all day, I thought I could get some experience with the care home too”, she added.
“On the first day, the manager showed me around and told me about the residents who do not get regular visitors so we can focus on them first, just those who would enjoy the company”, she explained. When Nneka is at the care home, she reads the newspaper to the residents, paints their nails, plays puzzles with them or has a chat with them and listens to the many stories that they have about their very eventful past.
She also enjoys working with the staff at the care home, “they are all really lovely, the nurses are amazing and are always in a good mood”. She added, “one member of staff is always so happy, she comes in laughing and making jokes, smiling and waving at everyone, it’s quite hard to not get along with people like that”.
When helping out in a care home, both the residents and the volunteers get something positive out of it. For the residents, it is the company of the volunteers and staff, and for the volunteers it is having the opportunity for growth. Nneka’s time at the care home has made her realise that she has developed new skills such as, “being more aware, being observant and reading people, since a lot of the residents don’t talk much. Quite like the lady I read the newspaper to, it’s purely based on her facial expressions when I can tell if she wants me to read to her”.
What has particularly made Nneka a good volunteer at the Cumberland Care Home is her willingness, “I am quite willing to learn how to get better and if you are willing you can learn anything”, she said. For others to also be good volunteers Nneka believes that, “you have to be really interested and patient”.
Nneka would highly recommend others to start volunteering at a care home, even if it is for a few hours a week. “Just do it. I think some people may worry that the residents are aggressive, but it is nothing like that. They just want to interact with others and talk about the stories they have on their past”, to this she added, “it is easy to start too, I just popped in one day and they welcomed me in, everyone is so relaxed there”.
Emma Long - Case Study
Emma, an assistant buyer at a retail company, is currently volunteering at the Cumberland Care Home. She has a degree in textiles design and has a passion for interior design. She uses these skills to ‘DIY’ household items in her apartment. Her other hobbies include socialising, going to the gym and travelling. She has recently taken up a new hobby with plants, “even though I am not really good at it”, she revealed.
Emma has been volunteering at Cumberland once a week during the evening. When she is there she chats to the carers, plays puzzles with the residents and has meaningful conversations with them. Emma initially decided to volunteer at Cumberland as she had previously worked at a care home whilst she was at university. She had a positive experience with her colleagues and the overall atmosphere of the care home so she was inspired to get back into it. She learned about this volunteering role at Cumberland Care Home through the volunteering page on the Friends of Care Homes website and she decided to apply because she, “just wanted to help people out.”
Emma is extremely pleased with her experience at Cumberland as she is having a great time with both the residents and the staff. She has connected with all the residents, although some more than others, and she claims that this role has helped her to feel comfortable talking to just about anyone. “I have always been a good talker”, she declared, but this experience has allowed her to expand and develop these skills further.
Emma expressed that she has always been comfortable around the elderly and feels a certain connection with them and so this has allowed her to be the best volunteer she can be. She does enjoy listening to all of their stories about when they were young, as they seem very passionate when describing them in detail to her.
One experience that stood out for Emma was a birthday party that was held in the garden at the Cumberland Care Home. She revealed that this was her most memorable time at the care home so far, “everyone gathered around, people were dancing and singing happy birthday”, she said.
Emma tends to arrive at the care home in the evenings when there are not as many activities taking place as they are during the day, but she still has the chance to play scrabble with the residents and staff and tends to grab a cup of tea whilst chatting to everyone.
When asked what she gained from the volunteering role, Emma stated that, “it is a bit selfish, but feeling like I have given something back.” She also added, “maybe one day it could lead to a career change.”
Emma explained that the skills needed to be a good volunteer are to “be open minded and respectful”, “treat them as you would anyone else” and the most important one of all is to be able to listen to them with your full attention. In addition, “you should be able to take them for who they are and how they are.”
Emma “would definitely recommend volunteering” and her advice for those who are thinking of starting is to “just go for it.” One on the things that Emma emphasised on was that, “volunteering is a good route to go down; it leads to better opportunities and experiences.” She was a bit nervous at first herself as she did not know what to expect from Cumberland, but she is delighted that she finally got herself to volunteer and make a difference in her community again.
Friends of Cumberland Care Home – Multisensory Equipment Project
Friends of Cumberland Care Home received a £1790 grant from Tesco’s Bags of Help 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.
Friends of Cumberland – End of Life Sitters Project
In March 2017 an End of Life Sitters project was launched at Cumberland Care Home thanks to a grant from The League of Friends of the Morris Markowe Unit.
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 Cumberland 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 Mitcham’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.
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