“If you have good intentions and good people around you then you feel very empowered”, Jennie Reed.
What is your job about?
- Alive is dedicated to improving the physical and mental health of care home residents through meaningful activity which meets their intellectual, emotional and social needs. The majority of people that we work with are people living with dementia, physical and/or learning disabilities, and other cognitive impairments. We provide training and support for care staff, empowering them to provide a high standard of meaningful activity for care home residents and we influence policy makers at local, regional and national levels to fight for quality of life and wellbeing being routinely prioritized for all care home residents. All our work is driving towards improving quality of life for older people and changing the culture of care.
- We run intergenerational projects and work to bring the community into the care homes itself to reduce loneliness and isolation. We believe it is only by getting to know the whole person that we can truly care for them. All our work is about bringing people together and creating meaningful connections
What issues do you address?
- Isolation, depression and anxiety of care home residents. When someone goes into a care home they lose all the things that meant something to them. They often lose connections with family and friends, access to learning, the ability to make choices about their own lives
- Care staff are often unvalued and under paid. We support them and the brilliant work that they are doing under often very challenging conditions
- The most important thing is human connection, communities are more separated and disparate today and people don’t talk to each other in the same way that they used to.
- All of our work is about bringing people together and creating meaningful connections.
What moved you to take action?
- I was on the board of a charity called Art and Power, it uses the arts to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities, it’s user lead. Everyone was working together, everyone learned from each other and were all working towards creating equality and meaningful connections through the arts. I was inspired from that.
- I heard about Alive! and just thought this is for me. We can’t sit by and do nothing. It’s such a widespread issue that it’s almost accepted, but it’s not acceptable. We can use the arts to improve lives.
- I’m very lucky to be working with this charity. It’s so inspiring to hear about the impact of these sessions. You really can see change happening.
What were the obstacles that you had to overcome?
I think it can be changing the culture of things, it’s a long hard road, but we will get there in the end. There are thousands of amazing care homes, where people have a fantastic quality of life, but there are still many people living with a terrible quality of life in care homes
What helped you keep going in hard times?
- Seeing care homes doing fantastic work, we just need to share that knowledge and inspire others.
- Seeing the smallest difference even a smile during the session is an incredible thing. Hearing care staff also being inspired is a huge motivator. You just have to keep going.
On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being very happy) where would you rate how you feel about your life?