Care Home Friends and Neighbours (Care Home FaNs) is our national programme supporting care homes and other care settings to connect meaningfully with their local community, and vice versa, to enhance the quality of life for people who live in care settings and those that support them.
Our premise is simple: People living in care homes and care settings are members of our local communities and deserve the same support and friendship that we might offer to other people living on our street.
Through Care Home FaNs, care settings widen their support circles and create connections to people, places and passions.
This sense of connection and purpose brings positivity, particularly to those who might be experiencing loneliness and isolation, and it enhances health and wellbeing. Feeling part of the community is very much key to quality of life for people living in care settings, as well as those working in and visiting them.
Creating community connections also has reciprocal benefits. It creates volunteering opportunities within local communities and gives communities the opportunity to enjoy and value their older people.
It has also been shown to influence public opinion of care homes and the people who live and work there, as well as other benefits such as broadened understanding of topics including dementia and ageing.
We celebrate the community connection efforts care homes make to involve all sectors of society – individuals, organisations, schools, youth groups, businesses and more.
Many care homes and care settings have already successfully created strong links with their local community, whether through recruitment of volunteers or through building connections with particular organisations.
Care Home Friends and Neighbours originally developed in partnership with the National Activity Providers Association (NAPA), working initially with 9 local organisations throughout the UK, and learning from a concept developed by My Home Life Essex Community Association.
NAPA provide opportunities for people to develop the essential knowledge, skills and confidence required to prioritise wellbeing and provide person-centred activity and engagement. They do this through sharing examples of innovation, by offering practical support and training, and by safeguarding the vital role that activity co-ordinators/providers play in the delivery of care home wellbeing.
Collaboration and partnership remains key to the Care Home FaNs programme.
We continue to work with NAPA on many different projects, supporting activity providers and care home managers. The relationship between our two organisations is core to the work we do.
In partnership with The Linking Network, we delivered England’s largest intergenerational project – Care Home FaNs: Intergenerational Linking – supporting 11 community organisations and charities to create a network of intergenerational connections between schools, youth groups and care homes in their local area.
We also deliver other support and development programmes within Care Home FaNs, supporting care settings to develop their community connections.