Three Leeds Christmas care wishes for 2019

Cath Roff, Director Adults & Health, Leeds City Council reflects on the year gone past and shares her thoughts and wishes for the new year ahead in a blog article that was originally published by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership.

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Posted in Active ageing, Age Friendly, Assisted Living, Better Lives, Neighbourhood Networks, older people, social work | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Don’t go slip sliding away- walking safely during wintery weather conditions

Last Christmas we gave you some advice on how to avoid trips and slips in icy conditions – it was so good that this year we thought it worth repeating. Stay warm and safe everyone.

Better Lives for People in Leeds

Slips, trips and falls are the most common types of accident in life affecting any age and, thankfully, often only resulting in minor bumps and bruises. However recent icy conditions have led to quite a few unexpected trips, and some of those can end up as visits to A&E.

You may feel that the only thing to do is hibernate, get the shopping brought in and stay on the sofa under your favourite blanket.  But there are precautions you can take so that you can have a safe, upright Christmas.

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Writing Back: a pen pal programme for Leeds students and older people

An older participant with her two student pen pals

This time of year is a busy one for the Royal Mail – cards and parcels all needing to be delivered before Christmas.  The rattle of the letterbox and the sounds of cards falling onto the carpet is one most people look forward too: but often with age the number of cards decrease as people lose touch or death reduces the number of friends and so a visit from the postie become less frequent.  And it’s not just older people who can feel lonely at this time of year, students too can feel alone, especially if a long way from home.

Writing Back is a volunteer, letter-writing project that matches University of Leeds students as pen pals with older, Yorkshire residents. Founded by Dr Georgina Binnie in 2014, the scheme also aims to shed new light on loneliness in people of different age groups.

An international postgraduate student and her older pen pal meet at an Easter 2018 event

Georgina was inspired to set up the project after volunteering at a local care home and teaching students at the University. She recognised that loneliness wasn’t only confined to the care home’s residents; instead, many of the students that she taught also sometimes felt homesick and expressed a desire to better connect with the community.

From an initial group of 28 participants, the scheme has grown to include 45 Faculty of Arts, Language and Cultures undergraduate students, 45 international postgraduate students and 71 older participants. Some of the project’s older pen pals write to more than one student and many have taken part in the project for several years!

Dr Georgina told us: “Our undergraduate students enjoy writing letters and often find that corresponding with an older member of the community helps them to settle into life in Leeds. For our international postgraduate students, most of whom are new to the UK, writing to a Yorkshire resident can allow them to engage in rich cultural exchanges, sharing thoughts and traditions with their older partners.”

A student and her older pen pal enjoy lunch at the University, having corresponded since 2014

Our Undergraduate Students say…

Anna: “This has been really fun, my pen pal is fab! It made me a lot less scared of speaking to people older than me as I realised we have a lot in common. And that I should be confident about myself because I do have things to say to someone who has had a longer life than me”.

Our International Postgraduate Students say…

Beatrice: “Being a part of the Writing Back project has been one of the highlights of my life here at Leeds. Since the beginning of the project, my impression of older people in Yorkshire specifically has changed as they have given me an insight into British culture from their perspective. Thank you for this opportunity!”

Our Older Pen Pals say…

Margaret T: “I have enjoyed writing to and receiving letters from my international penfriend. Her view of the world is so much broader than mine and her command of English and neatness of handwriting put me to shame! Despite her extensive travels I detect that she may miss home and family and I try to provide a warm “surrogate granny” experience for her. The impact on my life is that once again I am in touch with young people and I love to feel part of the modern world”.

Margaret A: “An enjoyable experience and a lovely learning curve for older citizens and their students. I have two students at present and a post grad who still keeps in touch. Have I learned much from them? One of my students and I now have a greater understanding of our respective faiths and that is for the good. Writing letters may be out of date but each one of my pen friends have said the same to me, that the letter on the mat is special and thrilling”.

Dr Georgina Binnie,

Pen pals are matched up with one another based on common interests and hobbies and letters are exchanged via Georgina at the University. Contact isn’t only confined to paper; students and older members have the chance to meet up with one another in person at bi-annual lunch events, which are always extremely popular. You can watch a video of some of the pen pals meeting for the first time here.

Despite an age-gap of 60+ years between many of the pen pals, participants soon find that friendships develop. Particularly as Christmas approaches, putting pen to paper can have a real impact.

Georgina works with Neighbourhood Networks and charities from across Yorkshire to find older letter writers. Older pen pals can also self-refer to the project by contacting Georgina on 0113 343 6189, emailing or writing to Writing Back, School of English, University of Leeds, LS2 9JT.

Posted in Active ageing, Age Friendly, Better Lives, Choice, Independence, Information, Intergenerational, loneliness, older people | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Leeds Home Plus service can help this winter

Winter sunshine is always welcome during the shorter days but though beautiful to look at often means it’s frosty, icy underfoot and cold.  This poses difficulties for many people whether it be heating the home, risking falls by going out to the shops or being lonely because they stay inside.  But where can people go for help?

Here in Leeds there is Home Plus – a new service aimed at helping people maintain their independence through improving health at home, helping to prevent falls and cold related health conditions.

So if you know someone who may be at serious risk of falls, struggling to heat their home or pay bills or need support with hazard repairs, Home Plus is there to help.

The service is delivered by Care & Repair Leeds in partnership with Groundwork Leeds and Age UK Leeds. Continue reading

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Age Friendly Leeds – learning from and sharing approaches to building age-friendly communities

Find out what happened when Leeds welcomed the Portuguese Aga Khan Foundation as part of their week-long study visit to the UK.

Leeds City Council’s Ageing Well Officer, Carole Clark, gives her account of the differences and similarities in how the communities and organisations in both countries engage with each other. Re-blogged from the Centre for Ageing Better blog. Continue reading

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Leeds Shared Lives Carers – knowing that they’re happy and comfortable in your home

Mary, on the left, middle is granddaughter, right is Jo (service user) Behind Jo in green top is Eddie, Mary’s husband, and next to him is Mary’s son Peter

Shared Lives is an alternative to traditional residential respite and day services for people in need of support.  The scheme offers personalised, quality care where carers share their lives and their homes with those they support.

The Leeds Shared Lives scheme helps family carers who take on the often emotionally and physically demanding care of a loved one by enabling them to have a break.  They do this by providing day support and short breaks to service users. Shared Lives carers support adults with a wide range of care needs such as older people, adults with dementia or learning, physical or sensory difficulties.

Indi Matharu, Principal Service Manager, Leeds Shared Lives talks to Mary who has been a carer with the Shared lives Scheme for 37 years.  Continue reading

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Sugar, honey, honey – what can World Diabetes day mean to you?

It’s World Diabetes Day on 14 November, a day to raise awareness of diabetes and find out if there is anything we can do to help ourselves.

Diabetes UK say about a million people in the UK are thought to have Type2 diabetes and not yet know it. And knowing your risk at any point in time is of course helpful in avoiding or preventing a diagnosis of Type2 diabetes.

Take this simple test to find out your risk of Type 2 diabetes  and what else you can do to minimise any risk.  Find out more about diabetes, how can it effect you and what you can do

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