Ahead of Dementia Action Week (21-27 May) led by the Alzheimer’s Society, Whitehouse Farm Centre near Morpeth has launched a new initiative, which aims to encourage new friendships and tackle isolation through a regular programme of events and social activities.
With support from local company Legrand Assisted Living & Healthcare, based in Blyth, The Farm launched ‘Hay Days’ on VE Day with a tea dance and welcomed over 80 service users and their carers from a number of care homes and community groups in Northumberland and Tyneside.
Dawn Peters, a trained carer with expertise working with the elderly and people living with dementia, is the events coordinator at Whitehouse Farm Centre. She said, “the aim of Hay Days is to bring isolated community groups, people living in sheltered accommodation and care homes across the region together to take part in weekly and monthly activities which encourage new friendships and tackle isolation through fun, social events hosted on the Farm.
“We piloted a session in February with the charity Mind Active Northumberland for people living with dementia and their carers. It was a huge success and spurred us on to launch Hay Days which will enable us to engage with older people in the local community.
“Even though some experience physical or mental infirmities, age should not be a barrier to meeting people and enjoying new experiences. The feedback we have received has been phenomenal and clearly demonstrates there is a need for this type of service in the community.”
Attendees at the VE Day- themed launch danced and sang along with talented vintage singing sensation Kayley Cares from Sunderland. They were then treated to a tasty lunch by the Farm’s catering team which was followed by a tour of the Farm.
Residents came from Scarbrough Court Care Home in Cramlington, Mind Active Northumberland, Frank Bushell House in South Shields and The Caddy Shacks, a group covering Northumberland and Tyneside which brings adults with learning disabilities and physical disabilities together for trips and activities to help them make new friends and integrate with the local community.
June Shone, coordinator for The Caddy Shacks, said, “we had a great day at Whitehouse Farm. Hay Days is a fantastic idea, everyone in our group said what a fantastic day out and how brilliant the organisation was. It was great to see so many people from different groups get up and dance and mix with one another. I’d like to thank the team at Whitehouse Farm, who were lovely, so friendly and helpful and wish them every success with Hay Days.”
In order to minimise the cost of running Hays Days events and activities to ensure they are affordable for people, Whitehouse Farm is receiving support from Legrand Assisted Living & Healthcare. The company designs, manufactures and supplies innovative technology solutions for the supported housing, health and social care sectors through their Tynetec, Jontek and Aid Call brands.
Managing director for Legrand Assisted Living & Healthcare, Chris Dodd, explains, “we are delighted to be involved in this fantastic initiative. Hay Days aims to tackle many of the key issues that are prevalent within our market, given that our products and services are designed to empower individuals to be safe, happy and independent in their own environments.
“Without a safe and friendly environment, many of the most vulnerable members within our community experience loneliness and isolation. As we are a Northumberland-based company that has been designing and manufacturing products in Blyth for over 40 years, we are fully invested in tackling the lack of activities available to combat loneliness in our local area, which is why we are working in partnership with Whitehouse Farm to support an event that is providing a much-needed social environment for elderly people to enjoy.”
The next Hay Days event is ‘Rookie Golf’ with Smile Through Sport the not for profit organisation led by Paralympian Stephen Miller MBE, on 6 June. The team at Whitehouse Farm is keen to hear from local companies who may wish to support future events and local organisations and community groups who would like to take part in Hay Days.