At Community Circles we are delighted to have secured funding from Wigan Council’s Care Home Innovation Fund to work with care homes to develop Community Circles in the Borough. This is our first funding to come from a local authority and an exciting development which we will deliver over three years. This work will build on the successes of our work at EachStep in Blackburn where Community Circles have had a positive impact on the lives of people who live there. It is part of a wider programme in Wigan to look at how care homes can deepen their connections with community and provide great care whilst also focussing on the things that are iWigan Deal logomportant to the people they care for. The programme is divided into 7 key areas including looking at transport, digital developments, community connections and activity. Community Circles will work in conjunction with this programme and incorporates several of the themes.

70% of care homes in Wigan are currently rated as ‘good’ in their CQC inspections. There is a lot of enthusiasm and commitment within the sector to increase this figure and to move from good to outstanding. The care home that Community Circles has been working in partnership with won care home of the year award – part of which was due to the great community connections and how Community Circles helped people to get more involved in things that mattered to them.

The strategy for this work in Wigan is to start with some focussed work with a few care homes whilst also developing links with the local voluntary sector and exploring local community connections. The next phase will see us widen this out to more care homes. Helen Smith and Cath Barton will support and mentor the care homes to develop Community Circles and embed the model into the way they work.

Care homes are being invited to a live workshop session in early June where they can complete Progress for Providers; a self-assessment tool which helps to identify where care homes are working well and any areas that can be developed. Care Homes will also have the opportunity to complete the expression of interest to develop Community Circles.

Attending the recent Wigan care home provider forum, it was clear to see the commitment that everyone had to supporting people well and to keep learning and developing to make care homes the best they can be. There was a feeling of warmth and passion with really positive attitude. It was great to see such a positive reaction and that many care homes already want to get involved with Community Circles. We heard about some great work that the care homes are already doing including afternoon tea where they support people to make the cakes and then invite their friends and family along to enjoy the fruits of their hard work. Another care home does a monthly ‘lunch for the lonely’ where they invite people from the local community to come and join them with a focus on people who are on their own and may want some company.

Over the next few weeks, Helen and Cath will be getting in touch with people in Wigan who are doing great community work and may want to get involved, looking at where to find volunteers who want to facilitate a circle or be part of someone’s circle and also finding out more about local businesses and how we they can be part of our work.

If you live or work in the Wigan Borough and would like to get involved either by offering time, skills or assets, please get in touch!

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