THIS IS THE START OF WHAT WILL BE A SERIES OF BLOGS OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS DESCRIBING SOME OF THE HISTORY AND CULTURE OF THE EXTRACARE CHARITABLE TRUST. THIS WAS THE ORGANISATION I FOUNDED AND WORKED FOR FROM 1987 THROUGH TO THE TIME I RETIRED IN 2010. I HOPE IT WILL INSPIRE OTHERS TO LOOK AT NEW WAYS OF LIVING IN LATER LIFE.
For other blogs in this series, click on “ExtraCare Traditions” in the TAG CLOUD
From the very beginning of our days in ExtraCare we always saw older people as unique individuals, with great stories to tell and a host of hidden talents. For many people their natural sense of modesty kept them from seeing anything remarkable in their lives. For others lack of confidence, or fear of being embarrassed, stopped them from having a go at things. One of our core values was ” AGE IS NO BARRIER TO ACHIEVING THINGS”. This is not always easy to believe when you are beset by the ravages of old age. Over the years we set out to enable everyone to be able to live up to that value — staff, relatives and most of all residents themselves.
The lady in the photograph below is one of our earliest finds. Her name is May Bastock, she lived in one of our first nursing homes at Abbey Park in Coventry. One day in a sing-a-long organised by my activities team leader – Mike Hallam – he noticed that May’s voice stood out among all the rest. She said she had only ever sung at home on washing days, but she had a concert level contralto quality in her voice. A few weeks later and after much persuasion, Mike got May to record a record and it was played on the local radio station and she was featured in the local press. Not quite the X Factor, but pretty good for a lady of 90 !
In the following years there were many more stories like this. Each one different, but all giving a lie to the idea that old people are ” old, past it and useless”.
Eventually in 1998 to celebrate The ExtraCare Charitable Trust’s 10th birthday, we published a book called “EVERYONE’S GOT A STORY TO TELL”. It was collated and written by Maureen Hall, an Assistant Nursing Home Manager and Jeanne Elston our “Roundabout” newspaper Editor, from the memories and experiences of a host of residents who came to live with us in those early days.
In my enthusiasm I had 10,000 printed and I am sure we must have sold at least 100 copies 🙂 But, it set a path for the years ahead, that everyone is special and that age really is no barrier with a little encouragement and support.