A blog by Christopher Thomas - Care and Support Service Development Co-Ordinator
‘Loneliness comes in many different shapes and sizes. For me, it was as a friend defined it, having plenty of people to do something with, but nobody to do nothing with’ (Dame Esther Rantzen DBE)
This statement recognises that there are people who have very active social lives, who may still feel lonely because they live alone.
At Trivallis, we recognise the need and benefit of having good quality sheltered accommodation in our communities and support services where people live alongside people of a similar age and have the opportunity to lead active, social lives together.
We have recently invested in bringing all of our schemes up to Welsh Housing Quality Standard through a programme of extensive modernisation. During this process, we worked with designers to ensure that the communal areas in the schemes provide a place for tenants, friends and family and the community of older people to mix together, actively combatting the feeling of loneliness.
Along with our support services, Trivallis’ sheltered schemes have been awarded the highest rating for customer excellence by the Centre for Housing and Support (CHS).
CHS’ regulator said: “Trivallis is performing exceptionally well, securing and learning from both staff and customer feedback to shape the service and support customers to achieve positive outcomes.”
Activities from something as simple as sitting alongside a neighbour in the communal lounge watching television, to pottering in the garden or going on a trip to the theatre or seaside with the social club are all available to help reduce isolation. The schemes all run breakfast clubs, bingo games, movie nights and seasonal celebrations such as Easter bonnet parades; chosen by tenants, for tenants.
Scheme Co-ordinators hold monthly meetings with tenants to discuss events. In February of this year, tenants from five schemes came together, with other local residents in Gwaunruperra Close, Llantrisant. The afternoon was so busy. Three tenants helped to organise and run the event. Ron, Carol and Shirley were responsible for different parts of the afternoon. Shirley took charge in the kitchen, making all of the teas and coffees and handing out homemade caskes. She said: “It was a lovely day and lots of people came. It was nice to hear everyone laughing and joking with one another. It’s exciting talking to people from other schemes”. Ron ran the quiz and bingo. Carol added “So many people have asked us to do it again. What was nice is that there was no awkwardness; everyone got along great!” Similar meetings are now being planned throughout the year across RCT. Having older people who live in surrounding communities attend our events has helped to promote the benefits of sheltered accommodation externally.
Partnership working to tackle these issues is something Trivallis is passionate about. We’re currently working with the local health board on a ‘falls prevention programme’ and Drink Wise Age Well to deliver further social activities. Tenants have been trained to lead fitness classes and are supported in the volunteering by the Royal Voluntary Service.
Our sheltered tenants really appreciate that they have their own apartment with the security and support on offer but the feeling of being part of a community is is one of the main draws. “When you move into schemes like this you can sometimes lose touch with the outside world; that’s why it’s so important to organise social sessions,” Ron explained.