The 2015 voting campaign led by the Orders of St. John Care Trust (OSJCT) – one of the UK’s leading care providers – has proved to be a great success, not just in terms of resident participation and polling turnout, but by empowering older people and giving them confidence that their voice matters.
As part of the campaign, OSJCT’s 68 care homes ran a series of events to get residents interested in this year’s General Election, including welcoming local parliamentary candidates from all parties for meet-and-greets and Q&A sessions, as well as hosting in-home political debates. The Trust also helped transport residents to the polls on 7th May, as well as collating and sending sealed postal votes to local authorities.
Sara Livadeas, OSJCT Strategy Director, said: “We are so pleased with the way the campaign unfolded and are grateful for the time invested in our older people by so many of the parliamentary candidates.
“We anticipate the campaign will have a lasting positive effect on person-centred working in our care homes and hope that the interests of the oldest and frailest in our society will remain high in the minds of our MPs.”
In addition to being a huge success in terms of engaging residents and employees in the electoral process,
other successes achieved through OSJCT’s “Your Vote Counts” campaign include:
- Increasing awareness that older people shouldn’t be forgotten and that their opinions are valuable and important;
- Increasing confidence within residents, in terms of helping them recognise their self-worth, resulting in greater independence and well-being;
- Strengthening local community relationships and opening up wider opportunities for activities, events and community integration;
- Heightening awareness within communities of what life in care homes is really like, portraying the vibrant nature of care homes and changing negative perceptions;
- Enabling employees to learn more about residents, thereby enhancing “person-centred” care delivery.
Clivia Philbin, a care home resident at OSJCT’s Isis House in Oxford, added: “The media frequently mention the great increase of older people.
“The campaign coincided with the anniversary celebration of the end of the WW1, reminding people of the various sacrificial experiences and various contribution of all to the peace and life that followed for the welfare of the community. Seventy years later, these people can still use the democratic procedure for the welfare of the community. I have always voted, and it was good, with the support of others, to encourage other people to take part in the campaign.”
Impressed by the scheme, Comic Relief granted OSJCT much of the funding required to run the “Your Vote Counts” campaign, which was the only one of its kind aimed at older people living in care homes.
OSJCT also worked closely with the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) throughout the campaign. The NDTi held a series of workshops with for over 120 residents and care workers from the Trust who had volunteered to become designated Voting Champions, responsible for organising election activities and helping residents register to vote. This assisted greatly in sharing ideas and good practice and ensuring a wide variety of ways to engage residents and employees in the whole electoral process.
Now that the General Election has come and gone, OSJCT’s care homes will be seeking to build on the community links and opportunities generated by the voting campaign. It is anticipated that this will lead to greater awareness among the general public and increased involvement in local affairs by residents in the homes