A volunteer project where sixth formers make weekly visits to their local care home to play croquet with older people and people living with dementia, has won national acclaim at the Independent Schools Awards 2014.
Oakham School picked up the award for Outstanding Community Initiative this November in recognition of their project at Tixover House Care Home in Rutland, which has been running for over 18 months.
The croquet classes take place every Friday during term-time at Tixover House and have had a huge impact on the individuals who take part, with evident mental, social and physical benefits for both residents and the students involved.
Activities Co-ordinator at the home, Elaine Elsey, has been working alongside school teacher, Jane Paddock, and care staff to organise the croquet sessions, which run every Friday in term-time.
Elaine says: “What the pupils are doing is astounding. We have all noticed a difference in the residents that take part. It makes them smile and gives them joy. It really is remarkable to watch residents who do not usually take part, get up and have a go.”
Oakham School and Tixover House were supported to start this project by American charity, Jiminy Wicket, and their ‘Through Hoops to Hope’ programme. The programme aims to break down the stigma around dementia and to bring people together through croquet.
The care home, which is run by Barchester Healthcare, is one of only two care homes in England involved in the initiative and the first of Barchester’s care homes to run it.
Jiminy Wicket provided training for the school pupils, teaching them skills such as how to help somebody who uses a walking frame to play as well as the rules of croquet.
Jane Paddock says: “We are delighted to have won an award for this initiative. The croquet sessions have taught the pupils a lot about themselves and the value of building stronger friendships with older people.”
Oakham School’s Headmaster Nigel Lashbrook says: “Not only is it something that we, as a school, are proud to be able to offer to our local community, but it’s also an incredibly rewarding experience for our pupils. In many ways, everyone benefits – which is why voluntary action programmes such as this, are so very important.”
Elaine adds: “Shirley, a woman living with advanced dementia never forgets that if it’s Friday, it’s croquet day. Even those who do not play delight in the atmosphere and enjoy chatting with the school pupils. Oakham School thoroughly deserves the Outstanding Community Initiative Award for the positive impact they have had at Tixover House.”