In this article, our partner Impact Initiatives tells us more about the services they provide for older people in Sussex.
Impact Initiatives run three centres with cafes for older people, The Hop 50+ in Hove, Larches in Coldean, Brighton and The Henfield Haven. We have been providing services for older people for over 30 years and have led the way in changing the image of day services for older people.
30 years of listening to older people
Our services have developed through listening to what older people want, addressing barriers and pre-conceived ideas of what services should provide and through recruiting staff teams who are able to develop and see a vision through to the delivery of a service which people value and benefit from.
We work with over 2,000 older people and cater for a wide range of needs in venues where people feel welcome, respected and safe. The centres are bright and modern with a supportive and lively atmosphere.
What we offer
Members and customers take part in a range of different activities dependent on their preferences. Some visit just to use the café, to get a freshly made coffee or homemade meal, others join in groups or classes. Some volunteer, including getting rooms ready for different classes, contributing to activity planning or helping the café team.
Working to end isolation
It is well documented that many older people can feel isolated as they or their friends are less able to get out and about and this can have devastating effects on both emotional and physical wellbeing.
The services we offer address this through proving the venues and activities which provide a purpose and focus to the week or day, where people can meet others and get involved in something which is good fun and they enjoy, a place where they are valued and contribute.
In addition to the centres and cafes we run we also run mini bus trips to places of interest and befriending schemes to support those less able to get out and about.
We run specific sessions for people with higher level support needs including those with dementia which are designed to encourage people to take part and to enjoy their time with us. We use a model developed by a dementia specialist and have high staff ratios. All staff are trained to a high standard so they are able to deliver sessions which are beneficial and interactive.
Key elements of the sessions we run for people with dementia include looking at well-known pieces of art with people and encouraging conversation about what they see. We always strive to deliver services we ourselves would want to be part of or where we would be happy to support our own family members to go to.
Ruth who cares for her mother who has dementia told us that she had not seen her mother interact with others or smile for some time and so was overwhelmed when she collected her at the end of the day and saw this happening. We believe that even if a person with dementia doesn’t later remember they have been out and enjoyed themselves, the fact they have makes it beneficial none the less.
Our centres are dementia friendly without looking institutionalised and all have gardens which are used by café customers and where we also hold some activities in the finer weather, some customers enjoy the gardens through helping to design and maintain them.
Fresh Food and special diets
Our cafes serve a range of meals using fresh produce and which are made from scratch in our open kitchens each day, we can cater for specific diets including various portion sizes and have a menu which includes standard snacks and hot meals alongside daily specials.
One of our café customers told us he likes to drop in each day as he can have a good meal but also there is always someone to chat to, which he misses since his wife died last year. Impact encourages customers to form their own informal groups and this has led to a very jovial men’s coffee and chat morning, a book club and a Sunday lunch meet up.
Mobility and Exercise
Other activities which Impact organises include, Mindful Yoga, play reading, strength and flexibility exercises and silent discos. Whilst some visit on a set day and stay all day others check the activity plan which is developed monthly which can be emailed, posted or collected so people can plan when they want to visit.
Payment is per activity and café prices are competitive accounting for the quality of the food and accounts can be set up to help people if memory loss makes managing money confusing.
Older People’s Festival
In addition to our ongoing services Impact have also developed the Older People’s Festival in Brighton and Hove which celebrates the contributions older people make to our society, dispels negative images of older people and provides a range of events which are attended by over 3,000 people each year.