Social Responsibility Group and The Forget-Me-Nots
We are Two-Years Old! Landmark achievements of our second year in operation were:
- Continuing group Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) support service to Doughty's Hospital: on going in 2013
- Continuing group CST at the Martineau Hall 'Fridays with the Forget-Me-Nots': ongoing 2013
- Grant awarded by Norwich Consolidated Charities
- Establishing group CST programme at Dell Rose Court, Norse Care: ongoing 2013
- Publication of a poetry collection, some written & some favourites selected by participants & volunteers
- Establishing group CST in Norwich Prison / Elderly Lifers Unit: ongoing
- Milestone birthday party for member of the FMNs
- Spreading the word about CST through 3 CST training days to date all led by UCL trainer Dr Gemma Ridel & attracting a wide mix of health & social participants
- Joint Communication workshop with Social Responsibility Group
- Further recruitment of volunteers via word of mouth contacts
- Final edit of our policy documents: available at AGM
Plans for the future:
- Consolidate our skills & supervision basis for all volunteers
- Maintain our successful relationships with existing organisations
- Fund-raising & grant-seeking programme to continue
Thank you to everyone for your support!
'One Year On'
The Forget-Me-Nots have been up and running for a whole year! Our first Cognitive Stimulation Therapy group was held at Doughty's Hospital, a Sheltered Housing complex in Norwich, in February 2011. Of course the planning behind that initial course of ten weekly sessions began several months earlier when a small group of people interested in outreach work got together. Their shared interest was to help people with memory difficulties and their partners-in-care to participate in group activities designed to stimulate a person cognitively. The Forget-Me-Nots are comprised of people from within the Octagon Chapel community and others with a particular interest in this type of voluntary work. We follow a nationally accepted and well researched format for each course of sessions always welcoming in family and formal paid carers to join us.
One year on, we have grown in numbers and now need to seriously consider our own training needs. In 2011 we were busy gathering practical experience and getting to know each other's strengths and those areas that needed support and further practise. We are now clear about what we can offer; we are good at working with groups of five to eight people with memory difficulties and their partners-in-care to create a fun interactive group session. Our work aims to be 'failure-free' and enjoyable for everyone. We like to hold consecutive meetings over a course of sessions for the same people on the same day and at the same time.
We learnt much from running our first group at Doughty's and then held three shorter courses in the Martineau Hall for people in our local community. Our groups work best with a high proportion of volunteers or helpers, and we know that this makes our work unique. All volunteers give their time, travel and expenses freely. Practically we need a warm, well-lit and comfortable room with good acoustics, and financially we spend an average of £7.50 per session aside bills for heating and light. We do ask for contributions from participants, although ultimately we prefer to leave this matter to each person or their partner-in care. Outlay covers basic refreshments, some training material and equipment. We often send one person in each group away with a bunch of flowers. Flowers have proved to be a wonderful way of cementing positive associations with the group.
2011 was a very full and successful year of some twenty five group sessions in total. In 2012 we aim to connect with other care organisations. To support this type of work the volunteers need to invest time and energy in core training. We have now completed two training sessions. The first was a half-day workshop about therapeutic touch in January led by a Norwich-based reflexologist and in February we had a full-day workshop on cognitive stimulation therapy (CST) led by a local Psychologist working on behalf of the team at UCL which developed this approach. Financially we will incur costs to pay for these trainings and so of course we will need to fund raise throughout 2012!
The Autumn course finished in December 2011. In this group we welcomed in Tatjana Tomljanovic as a new Forget-Me-Not. Tatjana has a social work background and we are delighted that she has joined us. Also Rosemary High, Valerie Sedgwick and Sarah Bluckert from the Octagon congregation.
On 9 December 2011, we opened the Martineau Hall for a film show of the film 'Remember Me'. Eighteen people came for film and discussion. The aim of the film is to raise awareness about dementia and generate discussion about living with dementia.
On 16 December 2011 the Forget-Me-Nots and Doughty's gave a staged reading of a play 'Home from Home' written by Peggie Cannam, a supporter of our work – a wonderful memorable event!
Groups for 2012
In February we start a new drop-in 'poetry, painting, singing and fun' group in the Martineau Hall. This group will be held weekly finishing at the end of April. We hope to attract new supporters of our work and also see familiar faces from previous groups.
We have three organisations keen to work with the Forget-Me-Nots in 2012; NORSE care homes (formerly Norfolk County Council), Doughty's and Norwich Prison, Elderly Lifers Service.
Each of these services was able to send members of the care team to the CST training day in February. This type of organisational commitment helps to support the introduction of new ways of working within care practice.
Organisation of the Forget-Me-Nots
We are committed to ensuring that the Forget-Me-Nots are responsibly organised given the sensitive nature of this type of work; in March Sally Pinney and I will attend a full day course on the management of volunteers to be held by Voluntary Norfolk.
We also would like to ensure that the Octagon Chapel community knows about our work so will provide regular updates in the 'The Norfolk Unitarian' newsletter.
Participating in national research
In January we were invited to join a national research study by University College London on the use of CST called SHIELD (Support at Home: Interventions to Enhance Life in Dementia). The study is interested in the effectiveness of staff training and its implementation in the workplace. We are extremely pleased to be taking part, and through a randomised process have just learnt that we will receive outreach support from the team at UCL over the next twelve months.