Combatting loneliness at our care home in Dorchester

Published: Saturday 10th October 2020

This World Mental Health Day (10 October), we’re celebrating the power of friendship at our care homes in Dorchester, Dorset and across the country.

Eileen and Sue are friends at Cheriton Care Home Dorchester

Loneliness is affecting millions of people across the country. New rules on socialising over the past six months, including restrictions on travel not seen since World War II, have meant lots of us have been effectively cut off from friends and family.

According to a Mental Health Foundation survey of UK adults during lockdown, one in four (24%) said they had felt lonely in the previous two weeks. When the same question was asked shortly before lockdown, just one in ten people (10%) said they had these feelings.

Although in itself, feeling lonely isn’t a mental health problem, there are strong links between the two. And the likelihood of you feeling lonely can increase if you have a mental health problem. The mental health charity, Mind, suggests that loneliness can be linked to mental health problems such as depression and trouble getting to sleep.

What makes us lonely?

The causes of loneliness vary greatly. But three of the main ones are often contributing factors to people deciding to move into one of our comfortable care homes in Dorchester, Weymouth, Swindon or across the country:

  • The death of a husband, wife or partner
  • Living alone, far away from other family members
  • Retiring and no longer being connected to work colleagues

Would moving to a care home help you feel less lonely?

These life events can often make people reflect on whether living by themselves at home is the best thing for them. They miss contact with people, sharing a joke or just talking about how their day is going.

Care homes can offer a friendly, sociable and secure environment. You’re surrounded by people who find themselves in a similar situation to you and who can understand how you feel.

Keeping connected at our residential care home in Dorchester

Residents at Cheriton, our care home in Dorchester have struck up lots of wonderful friendships. There’s always plenty of opportunities to chat and share memories in Cheriton’s lounges and gardens.

These chats are especially important for our residents living with dementia. Many of our care and nursing homes have memory boxes of items designed to spark reminiscence about childhood, raising families or job histories.

Everyone is different

Our care teams are always respectful of people’s privacy, as we realise that sometimes residents like to have time alone. And we know that being alone is not the same thing as feeling lonely. Indeed, it’s possible to have lots of social contact, and still feel lonely.

We give our residents choice about how they spend their time. This could be reading by themselves, joining in an activity, or spending time in their room.

A fast and firm friendship

Eileen and Sue at Cheriton Care Home, Dorchester

Both Eileen and Sue have lived at our Dorchester care home for over a year. Theirs was a quick, almost instant, friendship. Soon after meeting, they realised they were kindred spirits and started to spend most of their time together. They love music, sports and art activities, and always try to sit near each other, including at mealtimes.

Common interests and hobbies

Our residents’ friendships often take root over shared interests and hobbies. For example, we have several residents who love gardening. They have formed gardening clubs to pot up bulbs for the spring, or to tend vegetable seedlings donated by the local community.

The two Eileens at Cheriton Care Home, Dorchester

Eileen has also formed a warm friendship with another Eileen. Although they live in different wings of the care home, whenever the residents come together, the two Eileens always enjoy a good chat and a cup of tea. They are also both fond of knitting, so Cheriton’s Knitting Club brings them together every week to have a good ‘yarn’!