Throughout the course of our year-long project to develop Community Circles for people living with dementia at EachStep Blackburn, we have had many successes from individual outcomes through to developing local dementia-friendly communities.
We’re now coming to the end of the project, and it’s really rewarding to look back at what we’ve achieved together.
Overall wellbeing at EachStep
Overall, we’ve seen an average increase in wellbeing of 7.3 points as scored by the Warwick and Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale.
From a possible total score of 70, the average score at the start of the circle was 45. This increased to 52 after 6-8 months of the circle being developed – that’s an average rise of over 16% per person.
We’re thrilled to have seen such a significant increase in people’s wellbeing, supported by positive relationships and community connections that enable them to do more of what really matters to them.
Individual Circle stories
Here are some of the stories from our Circles at EachStep.
Making the most of Arthur’s DIY skills
Getting to know Arthur, we learnt that he has a loved of DIY and appreciates having a practical role that is valued by others. One of the ideas shared at Arthur’s Circle meeting was to spend time with the Facilities Manager, helping each Friday with the household checks. Now Arthur does this every week, reflecting what matters to him and supporting his wellbeing by enabling him to make a contribution to where he lives.
Keeping Ellen connected to her daughter
Through developing a one-page profile with Ellen and her family, we learnt that her relationship with her daughter Pat is one of the most important things in her life. Her Circle helps her to spend time with her daughter at a local luncheon club.
The purpose of Margaret’s Circle is to support her to reconnect with her faith community. We knew that Margaret’s faith was really important to her and as a result of her Circle’s ideas and energy, Margaret is now able to receive weekly communion and reconnect with members of her parish through a weekly coffee morning. The Circle also set up weekly visits from Joyce, the Eucharistic Minister, to EachStep. This is enjoyed by many people in the home and shows that the ripples from one Circle can reach many.
Building Heon’s relationships through a shared love of nature
Heon loves anything to do with nature. His Circle helps to keep him involved with this, whilst also supporting the relationship with his grandson, Freddie. This has involved setting up a trip together to Brockholes Nature Reserve, and spending time with each other making insect boxes and bird feeders. As this video shows, this his given Freddie a better experience whilst visiting Heon at EachStep, and strengthened their relationship:
Conversations at Heon’s circle meetings also prompted the idea of having animals visiting. Everyone at EachStep now enjoys a monthly visit from Pets at Home, who come along with their rabbits and guinea pigs. Heon and Freddie even had a starring role in the Pets at Home magazine! It’s wonderful to hear how the Circle is making such a positive difference to Heon’s and Freddie’s relationship, and providing enjoyment for others in the home too.
Bikes and beers for Jim
Jim loves anything to do with sport, and the Circle meetings share ideas of enabling this to happen. One of our circle members came to talk to Jim and other people who live at EachStep about motorbikes whilst they enjoyed a beer on a Friday evening. Jim has also been introduced to Matt, through their shared interest of cricket, as both have played with Baxenden Cricket Club; and we’re excited to see how this relationship develops.
Ken loves cooking, particularly prepping vegetables and making stew. Through conversations and ideas shared at his Circle meeting, Ken has been able to keep involved with cooking and prepare a stew for his family so they can enjoy a meal together. This supports Ken’s wellbeing through keeping him connected to important people in his life, whilst enabling him to make a positive contribution to others.
Janet’s furry friends
Through spending time learning about Janet’s history and what matters to her with her family, we found out about her love of dogs and many years spent breeding German Shepherds. Now Gill, who facilitates Janet’s Circle, brings her furry friend Lacy to visit her regularly. Being around dogs really supports Janet’s wellbeing.
Knitting and nattering with Kathleen
Kathleen is great company and loves to knit. Keeping her involved with knitting and making a contribution was the topic of conversation at her Circle meeting, so they have decided to start a Knit and Natter group and invite other people in the local community to join them at EachStep. Their first project is knitting squares to help mums of pre-term babies to sustain their milk supply.
Bernard’s poetry in print
Bernard has always written poetry and has a dream of seeing his poems in print. His Circle are supporting him to achieve his dream, pulling together an anthology of poems to publish. You can read more here.
Music for Marion
At Marion’s Circle meeting, her son-in-law Martin offered to come and put on a music request show. This is now a weekly event, much enjoyed by the people we support and their families. Martin enjoys the sessions too, and people really appreciate the contribution he is making. An idea shared at one circle meeting is enjoyed by many, as well as supporting both Marion and Martin’s wellbeing.
Community connections we’ve made
The wider relationships that have been developed with Community Circles continue to flourish.
We’re really pleased with the support we’ve had from Longshaw Infants and Junior Schools. We’ve enjoyed Christmas Carol concerts at school and enjoyed the choir visiting us at EachStep, and also the nativity performance from 90 children. We have lots more planned together from concerts to helping with their forest garden to sharing some of our insect boxes.
We’ve worked together with local businesses such as Nick at Landscape Engineering to develop plans for the garden at EachStep and look forward to the new shed and wall gardens. Nick has also shared his hobby of pyrography with us, involving people we support and their grandchildren making door plaques and fridge magnets through wood scorching.
We also got involved with the 200 year Canal Anniversary Project, and are looking forward to hosting the launch event.
We’ve been able to enjoy music from Clitheroe Ukelele Orchestra and dance performances from Bernese School of Theatre Dance and are looking forward to being entertained by the local Morris Dancing troupe in summer, too.
A final word
Thank you to everyone who has helped to make Community Circles a success at EachStep Blackburn; from the people we support to family members, facilitators, Circle members, the staff team and all the organisations we have worked with. Your contributions have been much appreciated and had a measureable effect on people’s wellbeing.
Here’s a message from Phil, the manager at EachStep Blackburn:
If you’d like to learn more about how Community Circles can work with residential care homes, please get in touch.