LIFE STORY PROJECT SEES CARE HOME RESIDENTS TURN PAPERBACK WRITERS

A Nether Poppleton care home is helping each of its 53 residents to publish their own life story book.

Susie Carman, lifestyle manager at Ebor Court has made it her mission to assist everyone living at the home to publish their biography. The books will be professionally produced at York’s oldest printers.

The project has lots of benefits according to staff at the luxury residential and dementia care home, which is operated by Ideal Carehomes.

Susie has spent many hours interviewing residents and their friends and families, and gathering images from throughout their lives. She says that working together on the books has helped to maintain connections between families throughout the lockdowns and has allowed staff to really understand about the people they care for.

One of the first residents to receive his finished publication is John Boorman, aged 85, who grew up in south London. In John’s book, he tells the tale of his school playground being bombed by a German warplane and later on in his life, meeting his wife Rose in Stafford whilst on national service.

John said: “Putting this book together has made me remember my wife, and all of the happy times we shared together. I love the book. It means a lot to me that someone has taken the trouble to write about my life.”

Another resident who is waiting with baited breath for her book to come back from the printers is Iris Bowers, aged 90. Iris’s story reveals she was evacuated from London to Devon aged eight at the start of WWII and had a happy time living with her uncle, aunt and cousin. The book also tells the story of Iris’s grandmother who passed away from a heart attack during the bombing raids.

Later on in Iris’s life, she worked on the switchboard of the General Electric Company in  central London and married her husband Frank aged 21. The book features many pictures of Iris from her younger years.

Each of the books runs to 18 pages and features chapters exploring early childhood, working life, relationships, travel and holidays, significant life events and interests. Lifestyle manager Susie began work on the books as part of Ideal Carehomes’ nationwide #thisisme project, which supports team members to connect more deeply with residents, matching them into a ‘buddy’ system based on similar interests.

Based on a template created by Dementia UK, the charity says that life story work encourages the sharing of memories with friends and family, which helps to strengthen relationships.

The books are being printed at Quacks The Printer, one of York’s oldest businesses, which was established in 1703. One copy of each will be on display in the reception area of Ebor Court, which is on Great North Way.

Susie said: “We are learning so much about our residents through this project and it has proved to be a real eye opener for staff.

“Finding out that one lady was a Rod Stewart superfan started a chain of events that ended in her receiving a crate load of signed memorabilia from the man himself.

“Another resident turned out to be one of the first people ever to holiday on party island Ibiza, having to travel there over several days on boats and trains.

“We also learned that a fair few of our residents hold more than one degree from a number of prestigious universities, including Oxbridge.

Home manager Shane Talbot said: “Creating life story books has helped everyone at Ebor Court to understand more about our residents at every stage of their lives and to see the child, teenager and young adult behind every resident.

“We have all had a lovely time making these books and it is such a good way to get to know all of our residents as individuals.”

Ebor Court is a purpose built luxury care home operated by Ideal Carehomes. With 64 ensuite bedrooms, it has secure, landscaped gardens and a full and varied activities programme. It is rated good by the Care Quality Commission.