A Hertfordshire care home has turned a new page with the opening of a library within its grounds following popular demand from residents – who used books as a way to boost positive wellbeing and mental stimulation throughout the nation’s lockdowns.
Located in the new activities room at Foxholes Care Home, near Hitchin, resident bookworms can now pick a novel from the floor-to-ceiling bookshelf that stretches across the entire room. The popularity of reading at the family-run home has also led to the launch of a library club, where residents and staff alike can enjoy losing themselves in a diverse selection of titles.
The club will aim to promote uplifts in mood, improved concentration and better long and short-term memory. Other benefits include reduced levels of agitation, while enhancing connectedness amongst residents by taking part in reading groups. Whether it is contemporary biographies, thoughtful non-fiction, standard novels or an array of historical yarns, residents have already gained an insight into the world view of others through the groups, which are inclusive to all members including those with dementia.
The club will also enable staff to gain insights into their residents’ lives and interests, while family members can also join in the fun, being brought closer together through literature.
Neeti Gandecha, of Foxholes Care Home, said: “The pandemic has been a difficult time for everyone connected with Foxholes, particularly for our residents who had their regular programme of activities restricted during the height of the lockdowns. Books and reading groups proved to be a great distraction and after having become so popular, we decided to build our very own floor-to-ceiling library for the residents.
“They can now independently find something to occupy their time with, whether it be the articulate tales of Charles Dickens, or an autobiography recounting the lives of sporting greats – there is a little something for everyone.”
The launch of the new library and its resulting club inspired one resident at the Pirton Road home to write his own book, depicting the colourful events from his life.
79-year-old Hilmar Warenius, said: “I’m writing a book on my memories of growing up in Cornwall, going to the University of Cambridge, then to London as a medical student, before qualifying as a doctor. It also covers how I met my wife and obtained my PHD, before moving to Newcastle and finally going on to be a professor in Liverpool.”
“The primary reason I wanted to write a book was for my children and grandchildren, who will be able to read it later. When I started to write, I found there were so many interesting things to cover, mainly the drastic change in the way medicine has been practised, even in what I view as my short life.”
Fellow resident 88-year-old Roy Ketchell will help maintain the library and its books. He said: “I enjoy organisation. My favourite books are biographies. I enjoyed Seve Ballesteros’ autobiography as I also used to play golf. Tommy Cooper was another enjoyable read.”
There has even been a large section of the library dedicated to local Hitchin history, which has been interesting for residents who grew up in the area to look back on.