Like all projects funded by the Big Lottery Fund (BIG), our work is based on ‘outcomes’, or the changes that we hope people will experience as a result of our work. We designed The Countrymen’s Club to improve older people’s wellbeing, reduce the isolation that they experienced, and to help them feel more valued in the community. We think we are well on the way to making those changes happen, but we have realised that other good things are happening that we did not expect.
Supporting carers in the community
A big outcome that we did not expect was the difference the project seems to be making to carers. Many of the countrymen receive care at home, or are carers themselves, and we have been told on many occasions that coming to the farm is an effective way to have some respite from those responsibilities. As a result, we are looking at changing the times of sessions to maximise the respite that we can offer, as we know this is crucial to keeping people in their own homes and communities.
We’re just a phone call away
We have also been surprised by the amount of time we spend chatting on the telephone. Many countrymen like to catch up with us in between sessions and we know it is particularly important to keep in touch with those who cannot attend for a few weeks. We know that some older people like going online and reading blogs like this, but for many a chat over the phone is much more appealing. We think this is contributing in a significant way to the outcomes listed above.
And with that in mind, we take our hats off to good folks at Silver Line; the free 24-hour helpline for older people that has recently launched. It’s totally confidential and if anyone reading this needs someone to talk to, night or day, then they can be reached on 0800 4 70 80 90.
Care farming for dementia patients in Norway
We couldn’t leave this blog post without sharing an amazing short film from Norway. On the eve of the G8 Dementia Summit in London the BBC went all the way to Norway to meet a care farming project for older dementia patients (we wish they had just called us, as we’re a lot closer to home!). In both Norway and the Netherlands care farming is becoming a much more mainstream option for older people. The film is inspiring and provides ideas for us here in the UK.