The Friends of Milliner House support the work of the home. Situated within a residential area on the outskirts of Luton, Bedfordshire, Milliner House is a purpose built 40 bedded care home offering Dementia, Residential and Mental Health care.
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 Milliner House 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.
Riki Bill - Case Study
Riki was introduced to Milliner House care home by her aunt, who knew David and Nichole, the Chairman and Secretary of the Friends Group, and who were looking to fill a vacancy coming up at the home. She was invited to attend the tea room, an activity hosted by Friends of Care Homes- then as soon as she has the chance, she emailed her application to Nichole, with her role as a volunteer secured a short while later.
Working at Milliner House has proven to be Riki’s favourite pastime; the opportunity to aide in the wellbeing of vulnerable elderly residents is something Riki finds incredibly rewarding. Although many residents living with dementia or other neurodegenerative conditions, Riki is overjoyed when residents trust and remember her, allowing her to develop personal bonds with them. Her role at Milliner House involves facilitating daily activities, such as colouring or gardening, and she is in charge of the tea room and the trolley service, which is very popular amongst residents due to the treats that are on offer.
Riki describes that she is lucky to be enriching the lives of the residents, acknowledging the part she has played in making a massive difference to their lives, but she also recognises that she has taken several skills and attributes away with her due to her time volunteering at Milliner House. Patience and compassion are key attributes to have when working in a field like this- much of the time, residents can be frustrated and dealing with mental health issues such as depression due to the challenges they face, but Riki notes that being able to put a smile on their faces is one of the best parts of the job; ‘’A lot of the time, the spirit is willing, but the body isn’t- taking that anger, processing it and putting it back into something more positive is rewarding.’’
Riki has learnt a lot from her time volunteering- when asked what advice she could give to others considering volunteering, Riki advises ‘’be open to the experience- don’t go in with preconceptions. You won’t always be right- everyone’s different, so something that’s true for one person might not be true for all. These are wise words to live by.’’ Riki recognises that volunteering at a care home can be challenging, but modifying your approach and trying again is part of the process. Riki credits her time at Milliner House as encouraging her to continue volunteering, particularly with the elderly, as she loves the sense of fulfilment she’s left with.
Case Study - Sean Ndoro
Sean moved to the UK a year ago and immediately settled into furthering his interest in the field of caring- currently studying Health and Social Care at college, Sean hopes to study Nursing at University.
Volunteering at a care home then seemed like the next step to take, and when researching volunteering positions, the opportunity with the Friends of Milliner House resonated with him; Sean credits this to the influence of his grandmother, who he left when moving to the UK from Zimbabwe.
With a passion for singing, Sean would love a career in the music industry, but meanwhile enjoys performing for family and friends and in other small gatherings, and he is also currently entertaining the idea of performing for staff and residents at Milliner, something everyone would look forward to.
Maintaining a busy schedule did not deter Sean from applying to volunteer at Milliner House. Balancing college three days a week and part-time work two days a week with volunteering at the care home for others would be a struggle, but Sean finds comfort and satisfaction spending his free time with residents. Sean also feels while working at Milliner House, which was inspired by his grandmother, he has found a way to remind himself of her while she remains miles away.
Sean’s roles and responsibilities at Milliner House revolves around enriching the lives of the residents, which includes partaking in activities with them such as colouring and snooker, as well as supervising the trolley service and the tea room. Sean appreciates the opportunity to put a smile on the faces of residents, but he acknowledges that it works both ways- although he knows his presence is valued by the residents, who are eager to talk to him as well as appreciating the fact that he is someone they can talk to, he notes that he enjoys it as well; being trusted and acting as a source of comfort for residents is something Sean views as rewarding.
Sean credits his time working at the care home as he’s noticed a development in certain skills and attributes, particularly his communication skills- a large part of the role is keeping the residents’ company, so the ability to maintain a conversation with them and make them feel respected are values Sean has picked up. His ability to remain patient has developed immensely- it is easy to overlook people in care homes, especially as they face increasing struggles, so understanding them and refraining from making assumptions are key qualities Sean advises one to have if considering volunteering.
Overall, Sean’s time at Milliner House Care home volunteering with elderly people has taught him life skills people his age are far from learning, but Sean undoubtedly appreciates the worthwhile experience.
Christmas festivities - Milliner House
This season, Friends of Milliner House are making sure that no one is left out of the Christmas festivities. To make the season a little warmer for the residents at Milliner House we delivered 12 bottles of prosecco for them enjoy. We wish all the residents and staff a very Merry Christmas from the Friends of Milliner House team.
Danny Fraser - Case Study
Danny Fraser has recently completed his A-level exams with high hopes of studying Medicine at university. He is now one of the alumni who are anticipating results in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Other than being interested in saving people’s lives, Danny is a passionate twice-a-year gym goer and a football enthusiast who would be even more football-enthusiastic if only time allowed him to be. In addition to his studies, volunteering and other interests, Danny is also a part-time worker at an Italian restaurant.
Danny has always been ambitious and outspoken – only at the age of 12 he conducted an interview with the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg via BBC’s School Report. He has also taken his stance in a radio interview against gun violence. “I like getting involved in projects and events in and out of school, I am always super active”, he explained.
During spring Danny found the opportunity to volunteer with Friends of Milliner via do-it.org, “I thought it would be a great thing to do, I didn’t have any commitments at the time and wanted to give back to the community, so I decided to become a Befriender”, he said. Danny’s aim was also to gain some experience relevant to his prospective course. He was put in contact with Friends of Milliner at once and has developed good relationships with the staff and the residents straightaway, “they were all very helpful”, he explained. “David then suggested that I volunteer with the Trolley Service, which works like a tiny shop on wheels for the residents”, Danny continued. “This way I got to know every single person at the care home”. Working with the residents has brought them and Danny closer together over time, “it means a lot when they recognise and trust you”, he emphasised.
Working with residents at a care home is an extremely interesting experience, especially when neurodegenerative conditions come to account. Many of the residents suffer from dementia, who due to the symptoms of memory loss tend to be quite repetitive, “I often go in and hear the same stories from the same people but I am so happy to just sit down and listen to them because that’s what makes the residents happy – to have someone attending to them”, Danny explained. Furthermore, attempts to address residents’ individual needs are vital whether it be speaking a bit louder to a resident with a hearing impairment or reintroducing one’s self multiple times to a resident who has already forgotten the volunteer’s name. However, at times these situations can be almost comical, “Once I spoke to a resident whose hearing was going and I started speaking much louder. They brought me right back to the ground with the ‘I’ve got dementia but I’m not deaf’ punchline”, Danny giggled whilst reminiscing. “It’s a constant learning process and as time goes by you just get better and richer of knowledge”, he added.
Volunteering has helped Danny develop a strong set of skills, particularly his communication skills, “before I thought I was good but I just keep learning more and more”, he explained. Patience and confidence are on the list of attributes that working with Friends of Milliner has evoked, “it can be difficult at times, but being patient is intrinsic in understanding others and their medical conditions”. This was all possible thanks to all the time that Danny has devoted for the residents of Milliner Care Home, “I think this is indeed the greatest benefit of the role, forming these long-term relationships with people and catering for them”, he explained. “You would never be able to see how gratifying the feeling of a resident’s trust is unless you volunteered in such settings”. Being around the elderly has made an impact on the prospective medicine student so great that he now considers a career in geriatrics, “people at an advanced age need to be looked after with just as much care and devotion as others”, he explained. “It is so important to look after the elderly”, Danny emphasised. Loneliness amongst care home residents begins to be addressed more firmly and volunteers like Danny play a remarkable role in tackling the issue. “Volunteering with residents brings challenges but I would encourage anyone to go for it and give it a go as long as they can commit”, Danny stressed that consistency is key. “Nothing is more gratifying than knowing that you have made someone’s 10 minutes of the day better, even if they immediately forget about it. You then just do it again.”
Friends of Milliner House - Trolley Service
On 21st August 2017, Friends of Milliner House Care Home received a grant from the Awards for All to launch a Trolley Service.
The service offers residents of Milliner House 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.
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.
Ellen began to work on various teams in local hospitals and care homes in her area and after her years of study at University. She decided to study various forms of therapy at University at the age of 18. Afterwards, she then took her basic knowledge to a hospital near her home. After exploring in detail her central topics of study, Ellen was dealt more demanding tasks in a variety of the local hospitals. “I knew that I was able to help out more and more each session because of the new knowledge I had gained,” said Ellen. Interestingly enough, she saw this knowledge helping her in one of the care homes, but not until weeks into volunteering there, did she come to the realisation that she liked the care home atmosphere more than the hospital volunteering experience.
That being said, she devotes her volunteering time to the Milliner House Care Home. Presently, she still volunteers here on a weekly basis and looks at every possible opportunity to attend the volunteer hours, even while she cared for her two parents as well as her son and daughter at the same time. Ellen admires how much love the residents have for her and the warm feeling that surrounds the care home each day she volunteers. She has a lot of specific experience in her personal life of working with people who have dementia, but she spoke about how all of that experience in the hospitals was very much different from her volunteering role at Milliner House.
For many years, she cared for her father who suffered from a stroke as well as her mother who had chronic problems in her leg. Now, she cares for her daughter who has special needs and attends anger management classes with her son. There is a very close correlation to the ways in which she learned how to be more specific and direct when speaking with her son and daughter to how she communicates on a weekly-basis with the residents.
Her time at Milliner House Care Home has been different in many ways from her studies at the University as well as her daily routines at the hospital. She loves seeing how much closer her family has become with each other after she developed different social skills from the interaction with the residents.
At first, Ellen struggled with finding out what the residents loved to do, but after clarifying with staff, her volunteering time became more enjoyable and easier because she was able to put together an agenda of activities or topics to talk about that she knew would excite and energise the residents. Ellen works closely with the activities coordinator now to plan games and events for the clients inside and outside the care home. Her favourite activity to do with the clients inside the care home is art projects because she loves seeing how artistic the clients are and how much they valued art from their childhoods. One day she was told by one of the residents she was painting next to that she had not picked up a paint brush since she was 18 years of age. If Ellen is not painting and chatting away with the clients, she is walking them to the local coffee shop, where she leads conversations about various topics of interest from the clients.
There is no better feeling than a feeling of satisfaction after watching a resident laugh or smile uncontrollably; this particular action certainly could never have any price tag attached to it.Volunteering has helped to increase her confidence and has given her a greater sense of community.
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