International Day of Older Persons 2020: How Riverside’s Health and Wellbeing Service adapted during the coronavirus pandemic

To mark International Day of Older Persons 2020, Kelli Melloy explains how Riverside’s Health and Wellbeing Service has adapted to the coronavirus pandemic in order to continue to be there for older people.

Health and Welbeing Service at Retirement Living schemes.

The role of the Health and Wellbeing team is to ensure that residents in our Retirement Living schemes across the country have regular, varied choice of activities and initiatives aimed at helping them to live better for longer.

Our overall aim is to support customers to age healthily, to be resilient, independent, and maintain a feeling of physical and mental wellness. We organise internal and external initiatives nationally, working with community partners, to navigate health pathways through nutrition advice, falls prevention, befriending, reducing isolation initiative, and to create some fun along the way.

H&W service

So we had to adapt and change when lockdown began in March as it was no longer safe to bring people into our schemes and buildings to hold activities. We had to move to a remote way of working and still provide a service for our customers.

We had to be innovative, and forward thinking, changing our working model and service to meet the needs of our tenants during lockdown and also worked remotely at home. As a result we devised a comprehensive set of front room activities and guides, creating over 30 activity resource packs for our customers, including activity ideas to complete while shielding, like games, quizzes, arts and crafts, cooking on a budget, gentle exercise, mindfulness, and interactive museum tours, we provided resources with links to online radio shows, newspapers and magazines.

Social isolation was one of our driving factors so we produced digital guides on how to use FaceTime, Skype, to enable those who had never used digital technology the opportunity to keep in touch remotely with friends and loved ones, and order goods and services. We celebrated VE Day, by creating flags and banners to be displayed in windows.

In addition, we devised an online directory and collated lists of helpful national services that our customers may need including befriending and shopping services, pharmacists that could deliver, we also provides supermarket online shopping guides so customers order goods and services online as a tool to keep them safe.

We also turned to our community partners, asking for supplies to keep our customers entertained, we received lots of donations, publishing houses Harper Collins and Arturcus sent pallet loads of fiction and non-fiction books, Staedler sent arts supplies, ASDA provided welfare boxes, and we received iPads from Liverpool Football Club.

Customer safety was one of our main priorities in our Retirement Living services during the pandemic. Retirement Living staff identified customers who need some support and we undertook the huge task of calling 4,500 customers to ensure they felt connected and safe. We offered all older customers the choice of daily or weekly welfare calls throughout the crisis, and continue to do so.

Grace Connor

To date we have completed over 250,000 welfare calls nationally. We ensured our customers had vital food, medication, and a connection to the outside world. Our staff rang ambulances for customers presenting with Covid symptoms, and became a vital lifeline for customers with no friends or family.

This has ultimately changed the way we deliver our service, we undertook a national survey to determining if these calls were of benefit to customers, a whopping 93% said they found them of benefit, 44% felt safer due to these calls and 61% would like these to continue after the pandemic.

Unfortunately this year we won’t be organising large celebrations in our schemes for International Day of Older Persons, but we won’t let this virus stop our customers missing out. We are still celebrating the lives of older people.

We have launched a national competition ‘Older People have Talent’ to celebrate our talented older people and their achievements to date. Whether it is a talent for knitting, gardening, poetry, painting, or have an amazing story or achievement to tell, we would love to hear from our retirement living residents.

To enter please email a picture of your talent, your story or greatest achievement to [email protected] or ask your scheme staff for assistance to help you enter. Deadline for entries is 31 October.

In addition we are providing an activity pack full of activities for you to complete to hopefully bust that boredom and keep you active.

*Social photographs taken before the pandemic.