Delivered in partnership with the North of England Mental Health Development Unit (NEMHDU) the Care Home Programme has co-designed a volunteering programme to take a fresh approach.  Feedback from early consultation showed that older people open up and connect better with their own peer groups.  This volunteering programme required our volunteers to connect with their own support networks where trust has already been built and friendships have formed, opening up opportunities to gain insight into the aspirations of older people. A Self-Care wheel was used to help participates reflect on their own health and wellbeing and requires individuals to develop an action plan to work on areas which need improvement. This project provided volunteers with the skills and knowledge necessary not just to better manage their own care, but to engage with the wider population of Gateshead and Newcastle. Some volunteers gained a considerable amount of confidence and one volunteer said “I’ve learned not to just accept what I’m told but to challenge this; I now understand that I’m allowed to have expectations when it comes to my own healthcare”. The delivery of the cohort two and three (which is focussed at men only) is now complete.  We recruited over 30 volunteers who became Self Care Advocates.  In Gateshead we’ve seen great success with 300 older people attending sessions ran by the volunteers throughout the community.

Self-Care How To Guide

During the vanguard programme NGCCG listened to what older people were telling us .. that they didn’t want ‘people in suits’ telling them how to live a better more healthy life! People told us they wanted to speak to their friends  / family / peers about their health, not officials from an organisation. So, we worked with a group of older people to support the development of the Self Care Volunteering Programme, which had 2 main aims – to spread the word about the care home programme and to also build individual’s confidence to manage their own care better.  The North of England Mental Health Development Unit was also involved in co-designing the course and leading the delivery and evaluation of the programme.

We have now successfully run 4 courses and a train the trainer course and we are currently working with Age UK Gateshead and NEMHDU to sustain the programme beyond the end of the vanguard programme. We have 4 very committed volunteers who are co-facilitating the course and have brought a wealth of knowledge and experience to the programme. There is a short  ‘How to Guide’ been developed to support anyone who may want to consider setting up a similar programme, outlining the course content and process we have been through to establish the work. 

Train the Trainer (Self Care Advocates)

Five volunteers successfully completed a Train the Trainer programme in February 2017 to co-deliver the Self-Care Programme.  By introducing the ‘train the trainer’ element to the programme, we hope to ensure sustainability of the Self-Care Programme whilst offering volunteers an opportunity to further their development and involvement opportunities. Volunteers have so far delivered two days of the Self Care Programme and our trainers and participants have enjoyed it.