Care home 'road trip' raises money for dementia

25.6.2020 | Mission News, Social Witness

Residents and staff at one of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland’s (PCI) care homes ‘have paid back’ some of the many acts of kindness that they have received during the Coronavirus pandemic by organising a 'road trip' - walking and cycling to the Church’s other care homes in Northern Ireland without actually leaving the home. The money raised will go to support the church’s work with dementia and the Alzheimer’s Society.

The challenge was just one of the many activities organised by the care home team at Trinity House in Garvagh to keep morale and sprits up as lockdown continued. It was also part of a broader recognition of the help and support that the home receives.

As care home manager, Jayne Bellingham explained, “As a home we have been very blessed by the support of our local community and the wider church, especially in recent weeks and months because of the pandemic. Given that help, twice a year since we opened 2018, we pick a project to support as a way of saying ‘thank you’.

“Members of staff had planned to cycle to each of the other PCI homes, to raise money and awareness for our own church’s work with residents who have dementia and the work of the Alzheimer’s Society. Unfortunately given the lockdown restrictions, this plan had to be shelved – but not entirely, as we decided to do an ‘imaginary’ walk and ride, asking the friends and relatives of Trinity, alongside staff, to donate,” she said.

The team worked out that it took approximately 200 steps for the average resident to walk around the home, with 10 circuits equalling a mile. The also worked out the approximate distances between homes: This meant that Trinity House to Corkey House in north Belfast, to Adelaide House in south Belfast and on to Sunnyside House in Bangor, down to River House in Newcastle and then across to Harold McCauley Residential Nursing Home in Omagh, returning to Trinity in Garvagh again made for a round trip of 230 miles.

“We also worked out that the average person could cycle for about 8 minutes to make 1 mile, but we increased this a little to 10 minutes per mile to take the pressure off! Residents really getting into it, with everyone taking part as it pleased them, adding their miles to a communal chart. Residents had their own exercise bike, which they loved, timing one another and egging each other on to go that bit further. They also organised their own walking group to complete the miles.

“With staff running around the home daily, clocking 5 miles on any given shift, it took us all two weeks, cycling 35 miles and walking 194. In the end, we raised £1,500, which was a tremendous result, and we all had a lot of fun doing it,” Jayne said.

Run by PCI’s Council for Social Witness, which seeks to deliver an effective social witness through its social services, Denise Keagan, head of older people’s services for PCI congratulated everyone at Trinity House who took part. “This is a great result and a creative way of thanking others. So to all involved well done!

“The last few months have been a challenging and testing time for our residents, their families, our staff and the care home sector as a whole. While keeping our residents safe during this pandemic, our teams across our homes have also tried to promote strong mental and emotional health,” Denise said.

“Trinity’s ‘road trip’ is just one of the many creative ways I have seen, along with BBQs, scavenger hunts and a virtual garden competition, to stimulate everyone and get a bit of craic going, all of which has allowed residents to continue to feel connected and healthy, both mentally and physically.”

She concluded by saying, “We are called to demonstrate Jesus’ love for people, which means putting our faith into practical action and simple Christian caring, which is a powerful social witness of the gospel. When times are dark, we need to shine brighter and I can’t praise enough, our staff in Trinity House, and those across all our homes, for their creativity, dedication and commitment to those they care for, especially in these days.”

Photos: Taking apart in the Trinity House road trip (1) care home manager, Jayne Bellingham, takes a well earned break during the 'journey' (2) Trinity House residents get into the spirit of the things and (3) Trinity's clerical officer, Hilary McIlreavy doing her bit.

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