Care Homes have worked so hard through the recent pandemic in caring for their residents. Alive and The Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service have come together to provide online support, ideas and inspiration to Care Homes to help them continue to support their residents in meaningful activity. With two different forums, they aim to ensure the whole home approach to activity is maintained through these challenging times.
Aimed at care and activity staff, this 2 hour long forum will provide activity ideas and inspiration for those who are delivering activity on a day to day basis. Find more information here
The sun is shining, and it feels like summer is finally well and truly with us. I hope you are able to enjoy some of this good weather.
At Alive, we are finally able to be out and about so much more, which is so encouraging, and we are loving spending time with so many incredible people face to face. In our Care Homes sessions, it’s wonderful to be able to visit homes again in-person, so if you would like a session, please book us in! Our members have been telling us what a difference attending the Meeting Centres has been making to their lives, which is very humbling and inspiring to see. We are looking forward to opening our third centre in South Gloucestershire soon. Our Tea and Tech sessions with WERN are also supporting a large number of older people to not only get to grips with tech, but to enjoy social engagement too (and lots of cake!).
I finally caught a train and went to London to speak at the NAPA conference, which was held on June 15th. Being face-to-face with people again and witnessing such creativity and commitment in our sector was just incredible. It was nerve wracking standing in front of an audience and giving a talk rather than being able to hide behind my computer, but so rewarding to hear of the work that has been happening within homes. The Care Sector has worked so hard over the last couple of years, it was encouraging to hear of everyone’s commitment and passion to serve our older people.
Our team has grown this year and we are just as passionate as ever about delivering high quality engagement and lighting up life. If you would like to join any of our projects, please do get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!
I hope you all have a joyful summer, full of light and life.
Tea And Tech has been roving around North Somerset this year, setting up in village halls and running drop-in sessions for older people to help them with their tech. Over a cup of tea, people have been able to ask questions about how to use their smart phone, what to do with their tablet and how to open an account with the council.
Staff and local volunteers have provided patient assistance, advice and guidance to help people stay well informed, connected and in control of their lives using modern computer technology. At 11 different locations we have had over 200 visits, enjoyed conversations over tea and cakes, caught up with friends and made new connections and handed out our bespoke “How To” guides, which are also available on our website: Access our resource library – Alive Activities
Working alongside the West Of England Rural Network (WERN), we will be running new sessions in Abbots Leigh and Locking over the summer, as well as the ongoing ones in places such as Portishead, Banwell and Long Ashton. If you want to know about the sessions, please contact Alive on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us on 0117 377 4756.
From gardening socials to a new marketing volunteer joining the team, here are our latest volunteering updates
Volunteering with Alive
As part of National Volunteer’s Week, we celebrated our first volunteer social since the beginning of lockdown in 2020! Many of our Social and Therapeutic Horticulture volunteers came together at our dementia-friendly allotment in Brentry to share food, drink and stories and bask in the sun.
The social started off with a Social and Therapeutic Horticulture training session for those interested in learning more about the research behind salutogenic environments, the therapeutic benefits of gardening, and how to best support people living with dementia through nature-based activities. The volunteers had the chance to peruse some books on the topics, from Dr Qing’s groundbreaking work on shirin yoku (forest bathing) to Jamie Lerner’s innovative suggestions in Urban Acupuncture, in which he shows how interventions such as Alive’s dementia-friendly allotment can make cities more liveable. As the afternoon progressed, we were visited by the neighbour’s chicken, who kept everyone entertained.
With the easing of COVID-restrictions, many new volunteers have joined our team and help us make our Social and Therapeutic Horticulture sessions a success. With their skills and energy, they help us in engaging our participants in a meaningful and joyful way and support us in transforming our community gardening spaces. We are very grateful for having such lovely, talented individuals support our mission.
Further, we had our first three volunteers Eve, Steph and Peter join our Dementia Meeting Centre team in Clevedon. It was a great time for them to join as we celebrated the Queen’s jubilee! We are looking forward to many more happy sessions at our three Dementia Meeting Centres in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
Lastly, we welcome our new, fantastic marketing volunteer Isabella to the team. With her breadth of knowledge and many years of experience, she has already been such a big help to us.
We thank everyone who is volunteering with us – together, we can make a real difference in older people’s lives. Nadja can be contacted on email@example.com for any volunteer-related queries.
The Evergreens group paid homage to Her Majesty with a celebration fit for a Queen
With themed decorations, cakes decorated with pictures of the Queen and a huge smorgasbord of delicious food, the celebrations took place with grand pomp. Some of the members even went the extra mile by dressing in the colours of the flag and a ‘best dressed’ winner was announced.
To honour the Queen, the group’s lead, Joana, gave a speech thanking the Queen and all the members stood up to sing the National Anthem.
We would like to congratulate the Queen on her Platinum Jubilee!
Clevedon Dementia Meeting Centre attendees’ daughter shares heartwarming words of thanks
The daughter of two of our Meeting Centre attendees’ recently sent our North Somerset Meeting Centre Manager, Anne Ellis, some lovely words of thanks for the positive impact the sessions have made on her father John, who has dementia and his wife, who is his primary carer.
Mags, the daughter of Meeting Centre member John, pictured together above, has kindly allowed us to share the email she wrote Anne here:
Hello Anne, I’ve been meaning to email you for a while. I wanted to say thank you for your dementia group in Clevedon at Christ church. The group has been fantastic for my dad who has a big smile on his face every time I pick him up. I didn’t expect what’s it’s done for my mum. She is dad’s main career. The group is her “golden” moment of the week. She’s able to talk to others in the same boat without the feeling of guilt that can be there when talking to non careers or family. She has the support of your team, who are so kind, supportive and fun. She knows dads happy there and safe, that she can also enjoy others company without having to be thinking of dads needs constantly.
The activities are fantastic. I picked dad up after a chocolate workshop and he informed me of what they’d been doing with his usual smile. But explained that he didn’t like chocolate. His lips hands and nose all had chocolate on them.
If there are ever ways that I can help, please let me know. This group is so important for my dad mum and us as a family.
Thank you so much for making it so special.
Warm wishes Mags, Carl and Molly
To find out more about how to join any of our meeting centres in North Somerset, Bristol or South Gloucestershire, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or call the office on 0117 377 4756.
We are so pleased to announce that on the 4th of March 2021, we won two national awards at the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards held at The Grand Hotel in Birmingham. The awards, organised by Care Management Matters and developed in conjunction with the National Care Forum, celebrates the hard work, dedication, innovation and excellence of those working in the not-for-profit sector who are making a positive impact on the lives of those in care. We have shown ourselves as an example of one such organisation going above the fray to make a positive difference.
These milestone recognitions come on the back of the tremendously impactful work we have been doing since 2010 and in particular, over the pandemic. The “Dementia Care Award” celebrates services improving the lives of people living with dementia and their families. For this award, we chose to put forward our dementia-friendly allotment, Bristol’s first and only, set up in the early part of the first lockdown. The allotment has welcomed hundreds of older people, their carers and families, since lockdown restrictions eased, including those living with dementia in the community. This has enabled them to take part in supported gardening activities, meet new people, learn new skills, be active and socialise with others in the community and share gardening knowledge. The allotment has allowed participants to undertake gardening tasks supported by volunteers, and take pride in growing flowers, fruit and vegetables, whilst also having the opportunity to build new friendships and support networks, retain/regain a sense of personal identity and gain a sense of purpose. This is in line with our vision to help build a stronger community for older people with dementia in North Bristol.
Since the pandemic hit, we have worked tirelessly on developing our digital strategy to facilitate easier access for older people and those living with dementia, and their carers. One big move in this direction has been the development of a dementia-friendly video platform called Alive On Demand. The “Technology Award” is in recognition of these efforts, which resulted in the creation of this innovative technology. Alive On Demand is a video-streaming platform with over 200 unique videos and has, since its launch under six months ago, reached close to 1000 older people and carers. The platform was designed with activities staff, care staff, carers and loved ones in mind to help them better engage and spark conversation with older people and learn more about individual and group interests.
The awards were presented by Angela Rippon CBE, who remarked that the judges appreciated the innovative use of technology to engage older people with dementia and were impressed by the breadth of unique content available on Alive On Demand’s platform. On the presentation of the “Dementia Care” award for the allotment, she said that they “loves the way it is person-centred and listens to the opinions and needs of the attendees and that it reaches people of multiple cultures.” She also added that it was very important to celebrate carers and the work that charities do to support the care industry and for those in the industry to know that they aren’t forgotten.
Our CEO Isobel Jones said, “I’m incredibly proud of my team and am grateful for this recognition. The team have gone above and beyond to come up with truly innovative solutions that are responsive to peoples’ needs. As a small, independent charity, winning these two awards is a testament to the hard work and passion we share in improving the lives of older people. This will only empower us to achieve more and continue making a positive difference.”
We are also excited to announce that we have been nominated as a finalist in the Bristol Life Awards “Charity of The Year” category. We have been nominated alongside some fantastic local organisations who are all making an amazing difference in Bristol. Whether we win or not, we already feel like winners to have had this recognition at all. We’re looking forward to getting glammed up for the awards night on 18th May! Good luck to all finalists!
For Dementia Action Week, Alive and Brace are running a webinar on the benefits of community gardening for people living with dementia.
Alive Activities’ community gardening team will be hosting a free webinar from Bristol’s first dementia-friendly allotment on Thursday 19th May. We’ll be sharing ways to connect through nature-based activity and documenting the powerful impact the project has had on the lives of participants and those around them.
Helen Foster-Collins, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Exeter, will also be with us. Helen will be presenting the learning she has made from her engagement with the allotment, which helped inform her research into better understanding the benefits of community gardening projects for people living with dementia.
Alive’s Meeting Centre project lead Louise Spencer will then share an update on their pioneering work. She will also touch on how the team will be incorporating gardening to benefit attendees.
There will be time for a Q&A and signposting to practitioners in the field.
Some fun reasons to get involved with volunteering for us
We recently took part in this year’s Get Growing Trail. Organised by Bristol Food Network, the Get Growing Trail represents a unique opportunity for people to glimpse behind the usually closed doors of 22 of the city’s community gardens, farms and green spaces.
We had an incredible time when our allotment opened to the public as part of Bristol Food Network’s Get Growing Trail. There was a constant stream of visitors and not only did we make some great new connections, but we also reconnected with lots of old friends! On the day we teamed up with Alive’s #OneGoodTurn project and ran a miniature garden workshop for children. We’re looking forward to taking some of the gardens into care homes very soon. Do check out more of the photos from the day here.
We’d also like to thank all the wonderful new volunteers who’ve recently started supporting our gardening sessions, both at the allotment and our Lawrence Weston Community Garden. They make a huge difference to the lives of our participants, and if this quote from someone who’s just started volunteering with us is anything to go by they, find the experience very positive themselves:
“I just wanted to say thank you again for such an enjoyable afternoon volunteering with you. I had a lovely time engaging with the residents and the others who attended the session, and it was so rewarding to do some meaningful gardening tasks with them.”
If you’d like to find out more about volunteering with Alive, please have a look at our volunteering opportunities here.
As members of the Alive Lawrence Weston Community Gardening Group can’t meet up together in person at the moment, we have launched a teleconference group to connect them for a garden-themed group call.
For the past few years, the group had run in Blaise Weston Court, meeting weekly for accessible gardening and socialising. Since we can’t see each other at the moment, members were offered a group chat in addition to their weekly befriending calls from the facilitator and everyone jumped at the chance. “It would be revitalising,” said one member of the group, while another commented that “It would make me feel less cut off.”
We began on Monday 8th Feb for an RSPB Birdwatch themed chat. After catching up as a group for the first time in nearly a year, we discussed the birds we had seen whilst doing the birdwatch from our windows over the previous weekend. One group member then offered to read some poems about birds he had written, and a group decision to talk about spring next time was agreed upon.
This Monday (15th Feb), we talked about spring flowers and what we could start growing on our windowsills ready for when we can meet as a group again, as “It’s nice to look ahead”. We did a spring flowers quiz and planned next week to share recipes with fruit and veg we can grow ourselves to inspire each other to eat more healthily and adventurously! One member said, “It’s lovely to hear all your voices here talking with me”, and another “It is good to keep in touch.”
We will read poems, share sightings of plants seen on walks and tips for growing our own, and most importantly, share these ideas as a group weekly until we can meet in person again.
With what we learn from this group call, Alive will be developing a garden-themed teleconference chat room that will be open to the public to help connect people through nature.
We hope to reintroduce our face-to-face sessions as soon as COVID-19 government guidelines allow and are working hard on making these safe.
If you would like to register interest for when this does open up you can contact Alive on 0117 377 4756 or email@example.com.
Following the challenges of COVID-19, Alive were thrilled to restart our intergenerational activities again, in October this year.
There has been a lot of creative thinking, a different approach and some learning along the way.
Alive have been running intergenerational activity sessions, linking schools and care homes in Bristol, since 2012. Our current Access All Ages project, funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, began expanding our intergenerational work into Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Hampshire in 2019. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, these partnerships had to sadly suspend their activity sessions in March. However, with a bit of help from technology, we have successfully been able to start delivery of activity sessions connecting care home residents with schools again this term.
Through consultations with our participants, we have found a flexible approach of using live online activity sessions over Zoom, or practical hands-on activities, has allowed care home staff to reconnect with this project, and with their partnered school. Residents and pupils are now able to see each other on-screen, share their experiences, show paintings, play games and just have a lot of fun again!
Online sessions have not been suitable for all care homes, so instead the residents and pupils are doing hands-on practical activities such as arts and crafts, to share with each other. Activities this term have included making joint murals for Remembrance Day, writing letters and making Christmas cards.
The use of online sharing platforms, such as Seesaw, has also been a new addition to this project. Seesaw allows schools and care homes to communicate in-between sessions, by securely sending messages, photos or videos. During lockdown some schools started using these platforms to share classwork, so being able to use them in this project has been a really positive addition, and something to continue going forward.
We have learnt so much from adapting this project to meet the restrictions of the pandemic and we continue to react to ever changing circumstances. But seeing the positive reactions of the pupils and residents has been amazing. With increased social isolation due to lockdown, ensuring these relationships continue is more important than ever and we look forward to growing those connections further in 2021.
“The session was wonderful. All the children were so happy to reconnect with the home and had lots of fun, they haven’t stopped talking about it. You’ve been in our hearts and our prayers throughout lockdown and we’ve really missed seeing everyone.” St Peter’s Primary, partnered with Avalon Residential Home
For more information about the Access All Ages project, please contact the Project Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or call our office on 0117 377 4756.