2020 has been a year like no other, as an organisation we have had to evolve and adapt at a rate we couldn’t have anticipated.
Our dedicated teams have gone above and beyond to ensure we continue to deliver outstanding service to the people we care for. In addition to this, we have received an outpouring of support from people in our community.
This year, we’ve had 300 new volunteers apply to join us in response to the pandemic. These volunteers have helped to deliver vital PPE to our sites, written letters to residents, befriended our tenants with regular phone calls and supported staff and residents across all areas of Brunelcare.
As the year draws to a close, we reflect on the amazing contributions and support we’ve received across Brunelcare, through an extremely challenging time.
Friends on the Phone
In April, we launched our ‘Friends on the Phone’ initiative. Tenants living across the Brunelcare community can now enjoy a regular phone call with a befriender. This initiative was set up to help combat loneliness and ensure our tenants stay connected. When a tenant requests a call, our volunteering team matches them up with a volunteer befriender, they then have weekly calls to check in and catch up.
Sonia, a befriendee living in Brunelcare housing that has been using the service since it first started, says: “The regular call from Karen means a lot to me, it brightens my week. We talk a lot and we laugh a lot, Karen is absolutely delightful, we have really hit it off."
Emma Gwynne, Brunelcare's Volunteering Manager says: "The scheme has been running since April but we already have 50 matches who are enjoying weekly calls. In many cases the weekly check ins have developed into real friendships, which is a fantastic thing to see. We're looking forward to developing this service further in 2021"
Drive to care & help your neighbour
During the first lockdown, we sent out an urgent request for volunteer drivers to help collect and deliver PPE, shopping and medical supplies to our sites. We were very grateful to receive many offers of support and had 11 volunteers help us safely deliver vital equipment and supplies. Since then, we have supported more than 40 tenants with shopping and medication deliveries on an ongoing basis, an initiative we call ‘Help your neighbour’.
Another initiative designed to help tackle loneliness across our sites was our pen-pal initiative. We reached out to people in the local community to write to our residents and tenants in nearby care homes and extra care housing sites. The outpouring of support and kindness from the community was incredible. Residents and tenants received pictures, drawings, cards and letters with kind words and motivational messages. We estimate that we have received more than 500 letters and cards since April. Just as with our ‘Friends on the Phone’ initiative, many friendships have developed. One example is between our tenant, Mary, and her penpal Eva, 14.
Mary said: “You’re never too old to make friends. Me and my pen pal Eva have found out that we have a lot in common, we both love arts and crafts! I’ve been telling her all about when I was a volunteer, and my daughter and son-in-law who both volunteer where I live. I always look forward to receiving her letters. I think this is going to be a friend for life.”
In response to the pandemic, 6 fundraisers were set up in 2020 to raise money for our care homes, funding wellbeing activities for residents and tenants across Brunelcare. Fundraisers took part in challenges that ranged from skipping, running to baking.
One inspiring story is about Ava Reynolds, who raised £200 for Waverley Gardens so they could purchase 2 android tablets. The fundraiser enabled tenants to stay in touch with family and friends via video calls through lockdown. Read the full story.
On 8th December, our care teams were among the first in the world to receive the vaccination for COVID-19. On Christmas eve, 60 residents from our Deerhurst care home also received the vaccine.
Lesley Hobbs, manager at Deerhurst care home had the vaccine with her team of nurses and carers. She says "We're proud to be amongst the first in line for the vaccine. This is how we will defeat the virus and help protect our wonderful residents and colleagues. It was quick and painless and I'd encourage anyone who has the opportunity to get the vaccine to take it."
As we head into 2021, we wanted to reiterate a thank you to all the amazing employees, volunteers and fundraisers who have helped support Brunelcare this year.
Oona Goldsworthy, Brunelcare’s CEO says: “2020 has been a difficult year on so many levels. The brightness comes from the support and care we have seen from our staff and volunteers and the hope from the vaccine. I hope 2021 will be calmer for us all.”
This International Friendship Day, we want to celebrate some of the fantastic friendships that have been built between our community carers and clients.
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Following the first face-to-face Brunelcare Excellence in Nursing meeting, Teresa Chinn introduces our very own BEN blog.
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Teresa Chinn MBE reflects on a recent study day led by our Dementia Care Lead Stuart Wright.
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