Providing dignity and respect for older people

Imagine the scenario.

You are an older person who lives alone. Perhaps your husband or wife died a couple of years ago. Your children are now adults who have moved away and are busy with their own kids and jobs. Unfortunately, you have a fall at home spraining your ankle and banging your head on a cupboard and are taken into hospital by an ambulance. After you are patched up and have been checked over, the nurses are happy for you to go home again the following morning, albeit with a patch on your temple, a bandage on your ankle and a walking stick. What do you do?

Logo (1).pngThat’s where Sheffield Churches Council for Community Care, (or Sheffield 4 C’s as they are commonly known) often come in. One of the many services this small Sheffield based charity provides is a ‘Hospital to Home’ scheme, giving timely support to older patients on their discharge home. “The older person may be feeling upset and vulnerable after their fall, but have no family or friends living nearby to help them settle back in”, explained Ericka, Fundraising Manager at SCCCC. “They may be feeling anxious about going home, and just need that extra bit of understanding and support that our team are trained to provide. We’ll transport the older person home, making sure they are warm and comfortable on their journey, then settle them in with a drink and a snack, and wait with them until alternative support or a family member arrives”.

For older people who may have been in hospital for a longer period, SCCCC’s ‘Hospital Aftercare’ scheme can support them with fitting small aids in their home, collecting clothes and other personal items to take into hospital, moving furniture in their home to accommodate a hospital bed, emergency shopping runs and even short-term pet feeding. As Ericka explained, “families are often living further apart nowadays, and those tasks that would previously have been taken on by family members living nearby, are now taken on by us as part of our service, which is free for people to access”.

The charity can also arrange the loans of a keysafe for patients who have been discharged from hospital but need to provide safe access to their house for carers and support agencies, and loans of high seat chairs for those recovering from knee or hip replacement surgery, to allow them that extra bit of comfort in their own home.

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Ericka shared a touching story with me of a family where the father had very much been head of his household, looked up to by his wife, children and grandchildren.  His health had sadly declined and after a long stay in hospital he had been discharged to spend his final days at home with his family. SCCCC arranged a loan of a reclining chair for the family, which allowed this proud Sheffield grandfather to sit in comfort around his family downstairs, still keeping charge of them all, bossing them about, and making those final important memories. “It’s about dignity and respect”, confirmed Ericka.

Another scheme run by the charity of which they are rightly proud is their ‘Good Neighbour’ befriending service, where trained and vetted volunteers visit an older person in their home regularly for a cuppa and a chat, enhancing their quality of life by providing friendship and much needed social interaction, much in the way that a neighbour may do. At SCCCC, 115 volunteers provide over 7000 hours of support in this way each year – that’s a lot of friendship and kindness shown to some of the most isolated and lonely older people in our city. And lots of cups of tea too!

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The charity recently ran an appeal for single bedding donations in conjunction with Radio Sheffield, and the response from the city was amazing! The bedding was needed to support older people who had been discharged from hospital but needed a temporary single hospital bed to be set up in their home. Ericka told me that attached to one duvet she had found a handwritten letter from a lady thanking the charity and Radio Sheffield for making such a difference to the lives of older people in the city, and that seeing the note had been such a lovely boost for the team at SCCCC.

Like so many charities in Sheffield, SCCCC rely hugely on volunteers and donations to keep providing their service. They receive minimal funding, so are always looking for more people to get involved with them, be that through fundraising, donating or volunteering.

The charity is looking for a few more runners for their team for the Sheffield 10k in September – could you run for the charity and raise vital funds to support their work? Or perhaps you prefer more sedentary activities and could host a bake sale at your school, college or workplace? The charity has a whole host of suggestions on their website if you are interested in fundraising for them.

Often the greatest gift we can give is our time, so if you are interested in volunteering with SCCCC, then please do contact them here. Applications from anyone aged 18 or over would be welcomed, and full training is given, plus regular meet ups and thank you events make this a great way to give something back to your community, enhance your skills and have fun at the same time.

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Finally, if you know someone in your community who you think may benefit from being supported by SCCCC, please do share this article with them. Perhaps they are spending more time at home than they used to? Maybe they would enjoy a regular visit from one of SCCCC’s friendly volunteers who could visit them in their own home for a chat and a brew?

Such support could make a world of difference to an isolated and lonely older person, but don’t just take my word for it – 91 year old Jean says:

“The visiting has completely changed my life. I feel more confident and am sleeping much better…”

To contact SCCCC, you can ring them on 0114 2505293, or email them on mail@scccc.co.uk.

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