Last Tuesday myself and about 14 other staff members from UCEM volunteered at Cedar Court, Extra Care Housing under the scheme organised by UCEM with EmployeeVounteering. This was one of the four employee volunteering days organised by UCEM as part of its centenary celebrations.
I have been a volunteer with The Link Visiting Scheme for several years until my “friend” passed away at the age of 93. I just could not make up my mind to go back because I was so emotionally involved. So I thought to take a break and go back when I am ready. Since then, I have used the Volunteering Day offered by UCEM to do a lesson at a local primary school (half-day) and then when this opportunity came up I jumped at it. I selected an opportunity where it was possible to do art, craft, games and the like rather than physical work mainly because of my previous experience with The Link Visiting Scheme and knew I enjoyed that type of interactivity more.
So when I got details for the day email to say that we will be doing cleaning patio, deck area and the garden at Cedar Court, I must say I thought did I pick the right event. Thankfully it was a sunny October Tuesday (it rained all day on Monday!) and I joined in with few others doing weeding. It was only a small area so it only took us about an hour and a half to finish the clearing the garden ready for winter.
Next we went inside to play games with the residents. Cedar Court provide housing to a wide variety of people, who have mental and physical health issues, learning disabilities and there are also elderly residents who just need that reassurance. It was fun playing games – I played Dominoes while others played card games, Jenga and Mega 4 in a Line (Connect 4). After lunch we had a six rounds of Bingo. It was my first time playing Bingo and on the last round I won the house – but I only got a toffee as we had the boxes of chocolates reserved for the residents.
After bingo there were few activities to select from. Nail art, decorating Gingerbread, painting pots or just chatting. I was talking to a resident who picked painting as her activity so I went along with her and we sat beside each other painting our pots and chatting. It was lovely to hear how she had worked for a firm that produced tins for Huntley and Palmers, how Reading had changed over the years and what activities they do at Cedar Court. I must say the activity I enjoyed most was painting flower pots.
After finishing the pot we planted Daffodil bulbs in them. We had many cups of teas over the day but after the final activity there was tea and a selection of yummy cakes.
In the Asian culture that I grew up in, going into residential care (even if it is a nursing home) is looked down upon. Offspring are expected to take care of their parents in their old age. I thought it could be isolating and boring to live in an assisted living accommodation. However, after seeing Cedar Court to me it seems like a houseshare with some people getting bit more help. According to the residents I spoke to, they have lot of activities going on to keep them occupied and they are happy there. Given that we are an aging society perhaps we will be needing more assisted living accommodation to support our aging population? However, residents very much appreciated us being there. I would definitely join another employee volunteering event if it were to be offered, I enjoyed the day very much 🙂
The original post is from my personal blog site.
I am a Learning Technology Researcher and the Chair of the Online Learning Research Centre at the University College of Estate Management. My principle research interests lie in the area of social implications of information and communication technologies, especially eLearning.