A Cambridgeshire care and rehab community has buried a time capsule in its grounds that contains items and stories from the coronavirus pandemic – enabling people in 2046 to acknowledge and reflect on a challenging period for the social care sector.
Askham Village Community, a specialist family-run care and rehabilitation community, near Doddington, recently buried an air-tight container filled with items, pictures, and pieces of reflective writing about the last 18 months from members of staff, residents, and their relatives.
Arranged by Keren Loxley, who is Lead Nurse at Askham Hall, more than 40 members of the Askham community gathered to watch the time capsule being buried on the site of the original Askham House, including current staff, previous staff, residents, and three generations of the Giga family, who run the home.
The capsule included a photo album with pictures of individuals associated with Askham who passed away during the pandemic, with staff members inserting small snippets detailing their personalities as a way to help people remember them long into the future.
Furthermore, to commemorate those who lived and worked through the challenges of the pandemic, items of achievement were also buried including copies of certificates for accreditations and staff exams/courses, while newspaper clippings of success stories during the period were also included – serving to give an insight into the care environment of the time.
Thank you cards from family members to staff were also added to help those in the future recognise the sacrifices that caregivers made, while other items included PPE such as gloves and masks, lateral flow and PCR tests, and Government documentation on the different measures implemented regarding infection control.
Aliyyah-Begum Nasser, Director at Askham Village Community, also supplied personal musings on how COVID-19 affected the family-run business and the dynamics of operating in social care during the period.
Marked with a commemorative plaque, the capsule will be dug up and reopened on 31st August 2046, where it is hoped many of the people involved in its contents will still be part of the Askham community in some way, so they can reflect and share their experiences with the post-pandemic generation.
Explaining why she chose to bury a time capsule on Askham’s COVID-19 experiences, Keren said: “One of my children brought home a yearly scrapbook on the pandemic and it got me thinking of how we could help summarise and reflect on the past 18 months, and it just evolved from there.
“It’s an acknowledgment of a time that I hope won’t be repeated during our lifetime. We invited everyone to include any personal stories or items for those in the future to reflect on and the take up was incredible. One staff member wrote about what it was like to be pregnant and have a baby during the pandemic, while a former patient reflected on how she recently returned home following rehab after COVID-19 led to her being put into an induced coma for six weeks – just hours after giving birth to her first child.
“Ultimately, we wanted staff, residents, their relatives and even the wider community to share their story, whether that included positive or negative experiences. It’s important their stories live on and can be shared by future generations in social care, so people can learn from this challenging time for the industry. More importantly, it’s provided a cathartic exercise for everyone at Askham, and if others in the future can benefit from the capsule in some way too, then that’s a bonus.”
Being marked with a plaque, the burial site of the capsule is visible to all those who live and work in the Askham community, enabling people to walk-by and reflect on the pandemic and the memories stored in the capsule.