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The Friends of Care Homes

 

 

Where it began

 

A little About Janet Churchill (aka Vicky)

(Founder of The Friends of Care Homes)

 

Being a family member with a parent in a care home and having some 35 years’ experience of putting on Events and being in the entertainment business I saw an opportunity that I felt sure would be attractive to families and carers and also would be of great benefit to all residents in care.

 

Seeing residents with dementia on a regular basis through our music based events many of them struggle with trying to remember who and where they are. For families to experience this was a tragedy to see.

 

In 2009 I watched a BBC 2 documentary by Gerry Robinson titled ‘Can Gerry Robinson Fix The Care Industry’. This was all about Care Homes and what goes on inside them.

 

 

Kicky and Vi

 

 

1 in 11 people over the age of 65 have dementia in the UK. The number of people with dementia is increasing because people are living longer.

 

Quite coincidentally while this show was being aired, I was having to deal with the difficulties of putting my own mother into care, and so things were very relevant to me at the time of watching this programme.

 

My mother, Vi adored music and singing too and, as I had a few connections in the Entertainment business, I thought how great it would be to bring some of my musician friends into her care home. After speaking to our home manager, she agreed to give things a try. I very much wanted to involve families and so I thought let’s do these events at the weekends when families are often free to come in and enjoy the music with their loved ones. This project needed the help of families, as the more the merrier I would say. We chose one unit in the home for the first week, but after just two weeks that unit was overflowing with happy families. The event was then brought downstairs to a larger day centre area where there was room for everyone to have fun. The Saturday Coffee morning and the Sunday Afternoon Concert were born. It was families helping with the refreshments, singing along to our songs together with their loved ones and meeting and sharing other families who are in a similar position. Working and supporting carers too, this can only be a positive. Little did I know that it would continue on for 11 years in the same home.

 

Sadly COVID came along and obviously this was the end of our events.

 

It became impossible to put our events on inside care homes for a very long time, however this did not stop us finding two outside community halls and we decided not only to bring care home guests, (wherever possible) out for a break. And now we also bring residents out of their own homes for that much needed weekly trip out. Our minibus team of drivers and bus support workers are all DBS checked and all enjoy seeing the same smiling faces each weekend. We support the isolated, the lonely, disabled and of course families living with Dementia. Sadly, my mother is no longer with us, but she can be proud that her legacy lives on with The Friends of Care Homes.

Henry
"The Friends events are always enjoyable to be at and my Nan would have been so proud of what we have achieved over the many years" Henry.