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Care Homes Enriching lives in a pandemic with NAPA

Thursday, November 12th, 2020 | Uncategorized

With a second lockdown underway, 2020 will be remembered as one of the most isolated years on record. Families have limited or stopped physical contact all together and nowhere has this been felt more than in the many care homes across the United Kingdom. Because of the close nature of care homes and the susceptibility to viral illnesses associated with old age, visitation is severely limited - leaving many of our older relatives and friends feeling more lonely than ever before. 


The University of Sterling in Scotland recently reported an increase in loneliness amongst the elderly in Scotland during the COVID-19 Pandemic. In a study led by Professor Anna Whittaker, the results showed that social distancing had a negative effect on the elderly and that better support systems and social circles could limit feelings of loneliness and poorer health. When you consider that loneliness in the elderly is already a serious issue in the UK, fortunately, there have already been several care homes and individuals making a difference this year.


This new found isolation has made the need for enrichment and entertainment more important than ever before. When someone spends their every day within the confines of the same building, the question of quality of life is important, especially during a pandemic when so many people are cut off from families and friends. Outside of the usual entertainment like TV, radio and board games, there’s a growing trend of providing a more practical approach to entertaining those in homes. 


In 2020, more and more care homes are taking a holistic approach to the environment they provide. Many care homes across the UK have private bars, empowering residents to drink responsibility while socialising in a way many of them have their entire lives. Other care homes use music to entertain residents, utilising local musicians to bring in instruments and get everyone involved with a play along - this is known to have an especially positive effect on people with Alzheimer’s.


The summer lockdown brought with it several viral videos showing the different ways care workers bridged the gap left by a lack of visitation. Staff at an Orchard Care home organised a karaoke evening for residents earlier this year, walking around the home and encouraging them to sing along to the classics. In a year filled with so much negativity, it was this kind of gesture that showed just how important engaging and dynamic activities are, not only for quality of life but also amidst a global pandemic.


There are organizations dedicated to providing interesting activities for those in care homes. The National Activity Providers Organisation (or NAPA for short) is a national charity and membership organisation which supports the care sector to prioritise wellbeing by promoting the importance of activity, arts and engagement. Founded in 1997 by a group of like-minded individuals, NAPA has established itself as a go-to provider for activity resources and a support service for activity professionals.


NAPA also trains activity providers and offers a number of courses and qualifications to ensure that staff have the necessary knowledge and skills in plan and provide opportunities for person centred interactions.


We spoke with the charity’s Executive Director, Hilary Woodhead about her role, NAPA and the importance of its work during a global pandemic.


“As Executive Director I lead the charity’s work and have overall responsibility for the charity’s operational services. Before joining NAPA I held operational, service improvement, workforce development and consultancy roles for health, housing and social care providers, and I worked in local government, the NHS and the private and voluntary sectors. During my career, I’ve also developed a special interest in the support of people living with dementia and the needs of their family and friends.”


With the world in lockdown and families practising social distancing, it should come as no surprise that more and more care homes are looking toward the likes of NAPA for information and resources that can help them to support their residents. With over 3,000 members across the UK, NAPA has seen its demand grow significantly this year.


“NAPA currently supports approximately 3,000 members; NAPA members are settings that provide services to adults with care and support needs. During the pandemic we have adapted our offer in order to continue to provide our core services that support the Professional Development of Activity Professionals.


We also provide a free helpline service, this includes a telephone and email service and closed virtual support group. We continue to consult with our members to ensure that our support services are relevant and helpful. The team continues to plan for a time when we can provide face-to-face support once again.”


We’ve already discussed the different ways COVID-19 affected care homes and residents this year, but the NAPA network is composed of members working on the front line and both Hilary and the NAPA team have a unique look at the way things are on the frontline.


“The staff we support tell us they have never experienced such stress and difficulty at work. Residents have found the required changes distressing and restrictions in visiting have meant that many residents haven’t seen family or friends for several months. This has undoubtedly affected the wellbeing of residents, staff, family and other external visitors.

We have however been overwhelmed by the dedication staff and providers have demonstrated and we recognise the incredible efforts made by our members in ensuring each and every resident is supported through this time. The NAPA member Activity Awards which were held in October were a great opportunity for us to recognise the losses experienced but also the excellent practice we have witnessed from across the membership”

In a year gripped with such negativity, it’s great to see a charity making a difference in an area that many people often forget. While it’s easy to imagine that our elderly relatives are content in their golden years, it’s been a very different reality for residents this year and NAPA is especially important when many of us can’t visit or spend time with relatives and friends.

This is why the entire team at Kare Plus is fully behind the team at NAPA, and will continue to work with the charity in the future to better enrich the lives of care home residents across the UK. We asked Hilary how those reading can get involved and support the charity to continue doing the fantastic work it’s been doing for over 20 years.


“You can help NAPA by attending our fundraising events, giving us a one off donation or organising your own fundraising activity. However, if you choose to fundraise for NAPA, we’re here to support you every step of the way! By fundraising for NAPA you will help us get closer to our goal: that every setting is able to prioritise the wellbeing of people with care and support needs; through access to activities, arts and engagement. Not sure where to begin? Get in touch with the friendly NAPA team. We would be delighted to hear from you. We are here to support you and can provide downloadable materials like editable posters and templates. If you are under 18, a parent or guardian will need to get in touch on your behalf. Please stay safe and always follow the current COVID-19 Government guidelines.Click here for link to fundraising guide.”

Kare Plus is currently running a competition alongside NAPA to find the Kare Plus Christmas Card for 2020. Working alongside NAPA, the Kare Plus team felt designing a Christmas card would be the perfect fit for the activities focused charity, which itself will circulate the competition to homes nationally. The winning design in our ‘Care on a Card’ Campaign will go out to Kare Plus franchises across the United Kingdom, and the winner will receive a Fortnum & Mason gift hamper worth £150 and 100 copies of their winning, professionally printed card. 

Step 1. Supply your entry as a photo (PDF, JPEG, PNG) or a copy of the design along with the applicants name, location, care home and email to [email protected] with the Subject Line: Karecards2020 Competition

Step 2. Post a picture of the design on your care home social media pages tagging Kare Plus using the hashtag #karecards2020 The winning design will be judged and published on this year's Christmas cards to be handed out to our many 1000s of customers and workforces who are based all over the UK!

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