Last week we held our first Togetherness Lunch and former and current patients were invited along to enjoy a Christmas meal, fun, a good chinwag and a sing-song with children from Beech Hill School in Halifax.
The idea sprung from a lovely gesture that Occupational Therapist, Michelle Sykes is involved in outside of work. Each month she joins a group of people as part of the charity Rengage (formerly Contact The Elderly) who open up their house to offer tea parties for the elderly - and Michelle hosts a tea party once a year.
Michelle (pictured below in the Chesney Hawkes Christmas Jumper), said: "It just gives me a warm feeling and satisfaction knowing I'm doing something to help people, and it means I can spend time baking with my two young children".
Senior Therapist, Hannah Wood, said the “Togetherness Lunch was the first of what we hope will grow into more in the future. Throughout the year we've been asking our patients if they'd like to be invited along to a Christmas event of some kind.
"Some of our patients were interested in having some more social interaction**, so they were invited for a Christmas lunch with entertainment from Beech Hill School choir. It was a huge success and eveyone said they'd had a lovely time and wanted to come back again.
"The choir did a fantastic job and everyone joined in to sing along.
"We also need to give a huge thanks to our Transport service for arranging transport and safely getting people to and from the event and also for the fabulous Christmas Dinner provided by our Catering Service - without them it wouldn't have been a success."
Our attendees went home with a Christmas card made by children from Huddersfield Grammar School and we have many more to hand out on the wards over the next week from Hipperholme Private Day Nursery. Our elderly care wards are also having cakes delivered during Christmas week for patients in hospital to enjoy."
** There are 3.8 million people over the age of 65 who live alone in the UK, and 9% of older people report feeling cut off from society. It is found that older adults who live alone are more likely to attend ED departments and their GP more regularly (Age UK).
As health deteriorates and ability to participate and get out can become more difficult in later years, many older people can experience isolation and loneliness due to not having the social interactions they had or need. Being present in other people’s company is not always enough, and people need to be able to build and sustain meaningful relationships with others to combat this feeling of loneliness and isolation.
Supporting people to have social interaction does not only help to address the growing problem of loneliness and social isolation, but research suggests that for every £1 spent tackling loneliness could subsequently save £3 in health costs (Age UK).
We are hoping to put on more events not only around Christmas time, but throughout the year with a focus on loneliness and social isolation.
Please look out for these and if anyone is interested in helping out, we would be grateful for any support. If you would like to help please get in touch by email firstname.lastname@example.org