15th of June is Elder Abuse Awareness Day but this doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.
Not unsurprisingly on a day designed to raise awareness of such a terrible thing, many press releases will be highlighting the appalling treatment and conditions that some older people have to suffer in later life. This is no such press release.
Magic Me is the UK’s leading intergenerational arts charity and we run projects that bring together younger and older people in mutual creativity. Many of these projects take place in care homes. One of these projects, Cocktails in Care Homes, sees young adult volunteers attending parties in care homes on a monthly basis. This regular contact builds up friendships between young and old and the volunteer Party Managers who run the parties develop relationships with the care home staff as well. Many of the residents have no regular contact with the outside world and having a trusted person, who they see and interact with on a regular basis gives them a possible outlet for any frustrations or issues they have with their care. Not every issue raised will be a safeguarding issue or lead to an accusation of abuse, but if a care home resident isn’t happy with their care it is still something that staff of the home will be glad to be made aware of.
All Magic Me’s 370+ active volunteers attend inductions and the party managers receive extra training and are DBS checked. The charity also runs free training sessions on Dementia Awareness for the volunteers that help them to deal with difficult situations and provide them with clear information about how to report concerns.
The Cocktails in Care Homes programme and our work with schools and communities is designed to combat the loneliness and isolation of older people and to provide them with creative stimulation and the opportunity to connect with people of a younger generation as peers rather than ‘clients’. However the extra benefit of additional scrutiny and an outside ear to express any concerns to cannot be underestimated.
Susan Langford director of Magic Me says:
“If people are horrified by the stories of elder abuse being raised in the media today, and feel powerless to help, there is something they can do. Volunteering for programmes like those run by Magic Me (and other inter-generational organisations), or taking part in befriending schemes can make a real difference to older people’s lives. Not only will they help to combat boredom and loneliness, they may also be the one trusted person, independent of the care home, to whom an older person can voice their fears and concerns.
We have very rarely had to deal with safeguarding issues of this type in the homes that we work in, and certainly expectation of homes have improved vastly since 1989 when I set up the charity. However having that safety valve is still a good thing for both the older people and the care home staff who look after them.”
Magic Me runs their Cocktails In Care Homes parties in 14 homes across London, people interested in volunteering can sign up via their website www.magicme.co.uk/get-involved and they are currently particularly interested in volunteers based in Willesden Green, Peckham, Shepherds’ Bush, Stepney, Swiss Cottage and Marylebone (or people who would find these locations convenient for volunteering).
The image used comes from our Decorum project from 2017 – it doesn’t relate to this topic but the message seems relevant.