In Wigan we are working with care homes across the borough to develop Community Circles. To support the development of Circles at scale, I’ve been working with groups of up to five care homes in a geographical hub. Together with the team from Wigan Council we think about the location of the homes and bring five homes together who are in close proximity of each other.
The hubs meet together once a fortnight for 6-9 months, then monthly for an hour and a half, to go through the process of Circles, think about matching volunteers and how the care homes can work together, sharing resources and matching people through shared interests.
The hub meetings are attended by the activity coordinators, with support from Wigan Council staff, Quality Performance Officers and Community Knowledge Officers and myself, the Community Circles Connector. Other local services and community groups are also invited as guest speakers to share information about their role, what support they can offer and how people can get involved. We recently enjoyed hearing from Rob from Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles about the Care to Move project and the forthcoming events and challenges for supporting people to stay active.
Through the hubs, often one idea from a Circle meeting can have positive ripples that affect other people in the home. We also recognise that the role of activity coordinator can sometimes feel isolating, so the hubs are a great place for peer support, sharing of ideas and widening connections.
Here are some of the things that the care homes have achieved through working together:
Dominoes is a usual activity but when one home invited all the other homes in the hub, the competition got real! One care home who has a minibus provided the transport and picked all the other people up. Having new people as part of the competition raised the stakes and this has now become a regular activity.
Lucy’s love of Scottish Dancing meant that everyone enjoyed the visit from the Scottish Dance Society and the invite was extended to other homes to join in with the fun.
At a recent hub meeting we talked about supporting one man with his love of fishing. We soon learned that people in other care homes also enjoyed fishing, so the homes worked together to plan a trip to the local fisheries, sharing the cost of transport and supporting people to connect around a shared interest.
Gardening get together
Olwyn’s Circle is helping her stay involved with gardening. At her Circle meeting it was suggested to arrange an afternoon with a gardening group. Four care homes got together to share the costs and enjoy a wider group of company.
One care home has organised a pie, pint and rugby evening inviting the other homes to get together and bring people together around their shared interest.
Cliff at the cinema
Through chatting at one Circle we learned of Pat’s love of Cliff Richard and together with other homes arranged an afternoon watching Cliff’s 60thanniversary show at the cinema.
A group of homes are regularly enjoying getting together for a variety of games.
Homes are joining in some friendly competition to see who can carve the best pumpkins.
It’s great to see the flourishing relationships and sharing of ideas that are happening through the hub meetings.
Cath Barton, Community Circles Connector