Anchor Hanover’s Adelaide Court in Hackney has a hosted a wellbeing day that brought together a range of wellbeing providers, residents and the local community. The event buzzed with learning, interaction and positivity. There were talks, quizzes, massages, exercise sessions, information leaflets, questions and answers, refreshments, and lots of socialising and networking.
As well as being the largest housing provider for the over 55s across England, Anchor Hanover is also the largest provider of its type in the London Borough of Hackney. This has provided an opportunity for the organisation to work together with Public Health, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and voluntary and social enterprise organisations to add to the traditional coffee mornings, bingo and knitting sessions held at its locations. The partnering organisations do exceptional work, which becomes even more far-reaching when Anchor Hanover can help them to make connections with the most vulnerable and isolated in our communities.
Ann Brolan, Wellbeing Development Manager at Anchor Hanover, said: ‘As the needs of our later life customers change - such as living longer with multiple complex health issues, families who don’t live nearby due to rising housing costs, and cuts to social care hitting crisis point - we have a responsibility to fill these gaps where we can.'
Anchor Hanover has excellent indoor and outdoor shared spaces at its locations, which customers are happy to share with the wider community. This means that health services such as The Stroke Project (commissioned by City & Hackney CCG) can bring in their clients from the community to join a group of residents. Everyone can get to know their neighbours and not feel alone, which is particularly helpful if they have a health problem. The wellbeing days provide a place where organisations not only meet with the people they want to help, but where they can network and refer their own clients to organisations they may not have known about previously. This gives customers a safe place to talk and have a chat as well as taster sessions of different types of treatments and activities available.
‘People come to live at Anchor Hanover for a number of reasons,’ explained Ann. ‘They may have had a major life transition, such as a sudden or gradual health need, or a bereavement. Or they might simply be entering retirement. We want to offer a place where they can feel confident and where we can help them to help themselves to live as healthy a life as possible. Our range of activities is designed to keep them physically, mentally and socially active.’
We’ve had brilliant feedback from residents about the help and support they've been able to access at these events.
Sometimes follow-on activities are held, by which point customers will have gained the confidence to go to sessions at other Anchor Hanover locations, or with the service providers. As a result of Adelaide Court's wellbeing day, for example, residents from Adelaid Court go to Limetree Court in Hackney for the Immediate Theatre eight-week programme. Previous wellbeing days have seen many sign-ups for the NHS Talk Changes programme and referrals to Compassionate Neighbours. Many customers also benefit from complementary therapies, such as the acupuncture and massage treatments provided by Hoxton Health.
Word is spreading across Hackney too. Residents from two other housing associations have attended the wellbeing days. Another resident told his 88-year-old aunt about the event, and she came along for some exercise and company. Another attendee was referred by the local social prescriber.
Nick Hodgskin, Assistant Director at Anchor Hanover, said: 'The wellbeing days are a perfect opportunity for the many organisations we work with to deliver taster sessions of their programmes. This helps customers to become interested in things they wouldn't normally take part in if they were signposted to attend them elsewhere'
Wellbeing days are an economical way of providing a great day that feels like a party and makes a lot of useful introductions. It's a model that can be replicated anywhere: there are services all over the country trying to make contact with members of the over 55s community. Anchor Hanover's customers and over 55s in the local area are a big part of that community.
The bond between those who attend the group is very strong and supportive.
Sadie from Community Connections described Anchor Hanover as 'the perfect partner' in helping them to get talking to residents. Sharon from Action on Hearing Loss echoed this sentiment: ‘It’s been really helpful to have this joined-up approach. Previously I was contacting estate managers one by one, which meant that organising a visit could take three to four months.'
Leanne and Holly from Talk Changes NHS explained, ‘There’s often a perception among older people that they're going to experience low mood as part of their life. But things don’t have to be this way. We can offer support with coping mechanisms via one-to-one and group sessions, and via the Silver Cloud online service. It’s all about getting the word out that help is available, as people often don’t realise it exists.’
Summing up the day, Anchor Hanover's Estate Manager Sandra recalled how when she first came to work at Adelaide Court there were no activities on the estate and the residents’ lounge was always empty. Sandra has always worked incredibly hard to support her residents, but in the last few years has seen an increase in complex needs as the housing crisis forces councils to house only the most needy. She appreciates the concept of organisations coming in together, as residents often need to access more than one service. She said, ‘It’s so inspiring to see how by working collaboratively, the estate has literally been turned around and is hosting the kind of warm and welcoming event we’re seeing here today.’
The wellbeing days are another prime example of how effective partnership linking between housing and health can make a real difference for our customers.
Some of the services are commissioned, such as NHS Talk Changes and The Stroke Project. Others will have successfully bid for their own funding and need to find people like Healthy Minds Healthy Bods, a new organisation trialling on two estates this month. Anchor Hanover is also joining forces with other service providers to bid for grant funding together. Recent successes include £50,000 to provide The Standing Together Project in Hackney. This was due to a successful trial run by The Mental Health Foundation in Newham, where residents are now seeking Anchor Hanover Greenshoots funding to continue the programme there. Anchor Hanover has also been successful in a £20,000 research project funded by City & Hackney CCG to show how to prevent falls in older people.
'Anchor Hanover will also be starting work with WhittyGordon on a two-year £40,000k intergenerational film project,' said Ann. 'One of the benefits of this will be to record the approach and outcomes to wellbeing in East London.'
The service providers at the event included: