‘Older people won’t be forgotten’ – Affinity Day Care C.I.C. vow, as demand soars in just 6 weeks.
Six weeks after opening, Affinity Day Care C.I.C., Northampton’s newest day care service for older people, has over 50 places filled each week and is described as “everything” by its clients.
The service, based at St. Luke’s Community Centre in Duston, offers care, friendship and fun for older people, Monday to Friday, 10:00 to 15:30. Predominantly supporting clients in their 80’s and 90’s, Affinity welcomed its oldest member last week, 99-year-old Pearl Kathleen Drinkwater, known to her friends as Kay.
Kay explains how COVID-19 has changed her life:
“I was used to a busy social life, being part of the Mother’s Union, knitting groups and going for lunches with friends. That all stopped last year and I hadn’t been able to do anything. I love being around people which is why being able to come to Affinity means everything.”
Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of a third national lockdown last week, it was feared that older people would again be the group to suffer most as a result of social isolation and loneliness. It was confirmed in Government guidance that support services for up to 15 people can remain open which came as welcome news to Affinity Day Care C.I.C. director, Fern Overton:
“Having opened the service on 2nd December, we are shocked at how quickly it’s grown. We have lots of enquiries coming in and at least one new starter every day. The service is in high demand and we are looking at investing in our own minibus to transport clients to and from the day centre. It just goes to show how needed services like ours really are.”
Clients like 99-year-old Kay, are able to enjoy a nutritious, freshly prepared two-course lunch as well as activities to improve memory, muscle strength, balance and blood flow. Activities are tailored to the needs of the clients and include games like bowls, giant Jenga and weighted hoola hooping.
Affinity C.I.C remained open during the festive period, a time which can be especially hard for older people. Clients particularly enjoyed the Christmas parties in the run-up to the big day, enjoying entertainment, a Christmas dinner and a trip to Workbridge to pick a Christmas tree. New Year was celebrated with non-alcoholic champagne and sparklers in the centre’s courtyard.
Fern Overton explains: “There is a lot being reported about older people being a frail, disposable group but that is not the case. Our clients are vibrant and energetic and we provide a service that caters to them. We are determined that the older people of Northampton won’t be forgotten.
“We’re excited about the warmer weather and looking forward to utilising the forest area at St Luke’s for science experiments, building bug hotels, planting flowers and vegetables as well as barbeque lunches.”
80% of clients attending Affinity C.I.C. have received the first COVID-19 vaccination, three of whom have had both vaccinations, with the remaining clients and staff due to be vaccinated soon. Despite the high vaccination rate, the centre is run with strict regulations in place, with everyone undergoing a temperature test on arrival and asked to use disinfectant. All staff wear masks and observe social distancing. Clients are put into bubbles so that travel to and from the centre and interaction can be done safely.
The procedures create a safe environment and don’t stop the clients enjoying their time at the centre. Kay Drinkwater, who is looking forward to a big birthday comments: “I turn 100 years old in February and it’s a shame it’s during lockdown as we had so much planned which is now all cancelled. I’m so glad I can still come and celebrate at Affinity. I’m the life and soul of the party and won’t let COVID change that!”