First week of lifeline day care centre in Northampton sees older people connect for the first time in months.
Affinity Day Care C.I.C. welcomed its first clients through the door on Wednesday 2nd December. The new service, based at St. Luke’s and St. James Community Centres, offers care, friendship and fun for older people across the town. The lifeline service is open Monday to Friday, 10:30 – 15:30 and includes transport to and from the centres.
After a second lockdown, the service opened at just the right time as client, Olive, explained “I am so pleased to be out of the house again! Being at home all that time has been really hard.”
With the closure and reduction of many other day care services in Northampton, Affinity Day Care C.I.C. is bucking the trend. Fern Overton, Director, Affinity Day Care C.I.C. explains why:
“The need for day care isn’t reducing, it’s increasing. It’s predicted that the over 65 population of Northamptonshire will increase by 51% by 2030, a rate higher than the country and the East Midlands. With that increase comes a responsibility for the community to ensure that older people are treasured and supported in a way which keeps them independent and active.
“Later life doesn’t have to be blighted with ill health and loneliness. Simple things like socialising and gentle mental and physical activity have been proven to increase quality of life and life expectancy. There is no reason why we can’t provide those things in Northamptonshire.”
The first week of the service certainly saw Fern and her experienced team put their ethos into practice. Clients enjoyed chair exercises, which increase blood flow, muscle strength and reduce joint inflammation, a quiz to challenge memory and recall and a creative activity making bird feeders to encourage connection with nature. As well as offering inclusive activities designed to promote physical and mental wellbeing, clients enjoyed nutritious, two-course lunches and refreshments throughout the day.
Operating a day service for older people in a post-lockdown world provides some challenges but also an opportunity for the fledgeling service. Fern Overton, Director, Affinity Day Care C.I.C.:
“We have organised clients into bubbles of 6. This means that the same people have the opportunity to be together on the minibus, sit together for activities and eat lunch together. It is different from how we are used to organising where people can mix freely, but this way, friendships and connections can be nurtured, at the same time as keeping our clients safe.
“The clients didn’t seem to mind the additional COVID-19 measures of masks, hand sanitising and social distancing. They were just delighted to be out of the house after such a long period of often, total isolation.”
Affinity Day Care isn’t just a service for the clients but also offers respite for family members who are the main carer. With one in eight people in the UK having caring responsibilities and the economic value of the contribution made by carers being £119 billion per year, it’s important that carers get the opportunity to rest. Time out is especially important for carers of older people with Dementia which the St James centre provides, as Northampton’s only specialist dementia day care service.
Fern Overton, Director, Affinity Day Care C.I.C.:
“Our first few days of service have been absolutely amazing. It’s fantastic to see the smiles on everyone’s faces and to enjoy the laughter. We can’t wait to keep supporting older people and to grow the service further”
Client, Gladys, explains the impact that attending had:
“I’m really sociable and this year has been really difficult. I have loved being around other people again and enjoying their company. I can’t wait to come back!”