I recently had the pleasure of delivering a couple of business coaching sessions to Rachel Barber, whose start-up – Living4Moments – aims to really reinvigorate the decency agenda in Care Homes. It’s a sector I know very little about, but I was really inspired by Rachel’s passion and drive, and perhaps mostly by her very pragmatic approach to engagement – ‘find out what someone likes, and support them to do it’. It’s so obvious, but seems to be missing in a lot of care settings. Here’s Rachel’s INTRODUCING….
What do you do, and how do you benefit the local sector?
At Living 4 Moments, we reduce the loneliness of residents in care homes. We help create significant, special moments with residents by finding what makes them connect. We involve partners, families and staff with the skills they can offer and where possible get residents to deliver their skills and talents.
What inequalities in York are you most passionate about and why?
The inequality I am most passionate about is the loneliness of people who are stuck in care homes with staff who do not fully understand who the residents are as people. Residents are lonely because there is a lack of meaningful engagements. There are too many residents whose aspirations/interests and skills have been overlooked, therefore wasting potential talents/stories. Loneliness and lack of stimulation speeds up the residents cognitive and physical decline. We at Living 4 Moments are passionate about enabling residents to live life to the fullest which slows down their physical/cognitive decline.
We do this by an extensive mapping exercise followed up by tailoring activities around people’s interests and skills. We have a wide network of talented partners, who can fill the gaps with their diverse skill set. In the current climate the way partners are working with homes will be different, yet the breadth and depth of sessions will still be met. Too many homes currently have extremely limited activities/stimulation available to residents, which is detrimental to everyone involved. It is even more important than ever that the choice of activities is broad and enriching as residents are not being visited by family and friends as before the pandemic.
I am also passionate about another inequality at the moment which is the digital divide – meaning people have no access to their families, friends, GP, shopping, school lessons/homework, and so on during the current constraints. My husband and I started our project with the school community of Archbishop Holgate in March/April 2020. We have been collecting people’s old laptops, renovating and updating them for the school to give to students to link with online lessons and homework. We were delighted with the York Minster community, who have been fantastic in providing many unwanted electronics for this project. However, there are many others now in the city who are also doing this recycling and upgrade to ensure individuals who have no access to computers are provided with one. This is now a growing partnership project involving CYC, Community Furniture Store, Age UK York, and many more individuals. Only together can we address this huge digital divide. Any further donations will go towards the city’s joint efforts to distribute to those in need.
What does success look like for you and your work?
When all care homes look at wellbeing on an equal par to safety. We want all care homes to be dynamic and responsive to every individual there. Reducing loneliness and keeping residents stimulated slows down their cognitive and physical decline. It also helps the home to fill their vacancies as homes become more attractive when connected better to their local community.
How has coronavirus affected your beneficiaries?
Residents in care homes have been hit hard by Coronavirus with the restrictions in place. The lack of visiting has been devastating for too many families and residents. The impact has been seen in many publications. Alzheimer’s UK found 82% of individuals living with dementia had worsened symptoms during the pandemic. These symptoms include increased agitation, less concentration and increased confusion.
This is why it is so important to get care homes to maximise the stimulation of residents. We can help set up small bubbles of residents with similar interests and skills within the homes to support each other. We can also bring in partners who can share their skills online with staff, enabling them to facilitate sessions meeting the needs of different residents.
The staff of care homes have been hit hard as they have been under considerable pressure. We are available to help them through some of their challenges by offering very practical support e.g. care plan workshops, audits, supervisions etc. Together we can reduce the stress for staff.
What does 2021 look like?
We would like more care homes to see wellbeing as a critical part of their care. Not – as is commonly the case in care homes – seen as the role of just the activities coordinator. Wellbeing is everyone’s responsibility and something that should be present in every care home. Happier residents make life easier for all staff.
In 2021 we hope to actually get into the homes to deliver our passion of maximising opportunities for all residents in care homes. In the meantime, we can still offer many of our services online. Working together will help homes to meet the needs of their residents and staff better.
What do you love about York and what would you change?
York is a very beautiful and attractive city with a vibrant range of festivals. We love the choice and the opportunities available to families and individuals of all interests/skills set. It is a great place to bring up a family with a range of activities within a 5 mile radius allowing us to cycle everywhere.
And finally, how do people get in touch with you?
The best way to contact me is through via email at firstname.lastname@example.org