May 16, 2019

No Detail Too Small

On a visit to the theatre
On a visit to the theatre

We are happy to present our regular project report. Some of you might think they are all alike and nothing actually changes. We do tell the same stories, indeed, but the number of care workers, occupational therapists, art therapists and other professional we hire has doubled since spring 2018. So has the quantity of people who support us - you. We learn and we teach, we say and we prove that every person deserves a comfortable and meaningful life. And seeing a play, growing onions, building snowmen or learning something new - no thing is too small or insignificant on the way to achieving this goal.

A VISIT TO THE THEATRE

Three residents of a care home in Bryansk - Vasily Andreyevich, Maria Danilovna and Galina Georgiyevna - longed for an outing and chose the local theatre as their destination. Our coordinator Tatiana took the responsibility for the trip. All three elderly people enjoyed the play and stated it just couldn’t be otherwise. No need to remind you this would hardly be possible in the understaffed care homes of the past.

GROWING ONIONS

Good care is, among other things, being able to be useful even if you cannot go outside anymore. For example, by growing green onions in your room and sharing it with other people. That’s exactly what Valentin Yakovlevich from Vyazma did. Natalia, the art therapist we hired for the local care home, helped him grow delicious onions to add to his soup. He also shares it with his roommates/

COOKING, LIKE AT HOME

In the care home in Tovarkovo (Tulskaya region) there is a cooking class. The last time we heard from them they made pelmeni. But it is not only about the actual cooking (there’s no need for that in a care institution); it provides communication, memory training, motor skills development and, most of all, satisfaction meaning better quality of life. The cooking class takes place in a special kitchenette (residents are not allowed into the main kitchen for hygiene reasons) we equipped with your help and support. Moreover, every session is supervised by Lyudmila, the art therapist whose salary comes from your donations.

MISTER SNOWMAN

Mid-March is just the right time for building snowmen as the snow becomes slushy and snowballs stick together well. Unfortunately, for many people who end up in care homes it is beyond even dreaming because their mobility can be so severely restricted they don’t leave their rooms for years. Like, for example, Anatoliy Grigorievich who was totally paralysed below waist when admitted a year ago. He can now use a wheelchair and gladly wheels outside. While there was still snow on the ground, our care workers helped Anatoliy Grigorievich and others build some snowmen.

For us and many of our supporters, these snowmen are a symbol of what we do. When asked why care homes need more staff, we can say: “So that an elderly person who hasn’t touched snow for 30 years could build a snowman”. Of course, more staff means more spending but we strongly believe we can make a difference with your support.

CARING ABOUT CARERS

Care work is physically and emotionally demanding, there’s no denying that. We try to help care workers in the organisations we work with take care of themselves, at least on the physical level. Our trainers and our partners (like sisters of mercy from St. Dimitry college) teach safe handling practices with the use of special equipment.

Care workers also receive training on hygiene issues, pressure care, communication in dementia care, keeping adequate fluid balance and food intake.

High quality care is hardly possible without good training but is absolutely impossible without enough staff to put it to practice. Unfortunately, we still have to cover half of this project costs from our general budget. It is enough to keep what we already have going but does not allow us to hire even more people. Nevertheless, we hope to achieve the growth of the project with your help and we thank you for supporting our cause.

Next time we’re looking forward to sharing spring and summer stories of the elderly and their caregivers enjoying sunny days, long walks, garden tea parties and picnics.  The magic, our proud and true joy is that we can tell that being sure it will definitely happen this way. We gained this faith in our future and the future of the elderly in need - thanks to your understanding, love and care. Enjoy this beautiful summer coming soon!

Hand-grown onions, fresh and delicious
Hand-grown onions, fresh and delicious
Mister Snowman
Mister Snowman
People of all ages can and should enjoy snow
People of all ages can and should enjoy snow
Learning safe handling is like a dance
Learning safe handling is like a dance
Staff also learn how it feels to be handled
Staff also learn how it feels to be handled
Feb 21, 2019

New Goals for the New Year

Tatiana with a small pine twig
Tatiana with a small pine twig

We are happy to take a chance and thank you for all those true New Year and Christmas miracles for us and – what’s more important – for thousands of elderly people living all over Russia, with everyday care, understanding and dignity!

With your support not only did we manage to bring joy and happiness into elder people's everyday life (which is already quite a thing!), but also proved the idea that professional care is essential for any person, whatever the age and life circumstances, on the highest governmental level in our country. It’s a historical breakthrough, and it would have never happened without your consciousness and kindness.

This shift in minds of the authorities resulted in a number of regions hiring our staff members, who we had found, educated and supported with the help of donations. The local staffing norms in care homes have been officially extended, so now the care workers don’t have to worry about continuing in their working places in the future.

Nevertheless a few regions, where the authorities had previously promised to hire our employees (care workers, event managers, physical and occupational therapists) and pay their wages, turned out to be  financially incapable of keeping the promise. Unfortunately, they refused to pay salaries to already hired staff members. We couldn’t do the same to the residents of the care homes, who already got used to positive changes in their lifestyle, care and attention as part of their daily routine and, most importantly, established personal relationships with carers.

So for an uncertain time we’re going to continue supporting and paying the care workers on our own. That is why we have doubled the financial goal of our project up to $180,000. We hope that together we can help preserve the quality of life of elderly people in regional care homes and — in the shortest time possible — find a way to ensure the future of care professionals we have prepared, also thanks to your help and understanding.

As usual, we are sharing some stories from the lives of people we care about with your generous help. A glimpse into what small, yet significant changes look like.

 

The smell of pines

Tatiana has been living in Odoev nursing home for quite a while now. She came there after a stroke, remained silent and withdrawn for some time, refused to get out for walks with our care workers. Last year she broke a leg and was laid up for a short while. By November, however, Tatiana was on the mend: she could sit straight in her bed and do simple exercises like doing jigsaw puzzles to improve hand motor skills.

At the beginning of winter, taking a chance on sunny weather, one of our care workers, Oksana, did her best to talk Tatiana into a short trip round the nursing home yard. Easier said than done, but finally they managed to get outside. None of them could foresee what happened next. Tatiana looked around with delight, she was pleased by the fir and pine trees growing in the yard. She asked to snap off a small pine branch, held it her face and remained like this for a long time, enjoying the smell of fresh pine needles. Tatiana then made a resolution to go for a walk every day, rain or shine. And it is your help that made it possible. Right now Tatiana and Oksana may be walking in the yard and catching big fluffy snowflakes, enjoying the view of the pines covered in slowly melting snow.

 

Talent show

 

We have most probably mentioned the outstanding residents of the Rzhev care home for the elderly and disabled. Each year they keep surprising us with their art works, music and dance performances, full of life, enthusiasm and energy. In December’18 they decided to launch a real talent show (following the famous Russian TV show “Hello, we’re looking for talents!”) with participants, judges and viewers. As a side note, competitions are particularly rewarding for the elderly people, who feel their skills, competences, experience and charisma are worth a fair contest.

 

The staff of the care home took part as well and presented their works and shows to the judges. The nominations included carving, knitting, embroidery, pottery, poetry, singing, playing favourite pieces of music and many more. Even residents with severely restricted mobility managed to prepare some songs with the help of our care worker, Tanya.

 

Years ago, without your contribution and kind help all of this would have been absolutely impossible!  

 

New Year Decorations

Care home residents have a lot of time to spare. But with additional staff to provide for their leisure and cultural needs, they don’t have to be bored anymore. Especially, at the end of December when the New Year’s spirit is in the air.

The care workers whose wages you help us pay decorated fir trees, rooms and windows, communal areas for the coming holidays together with the residents. Just look at the pictures enclosed to feel their joy.

Christmas performance

Lidiya, our event manager in the care home in Elkhovka, acts as the director of the amateur theatre for the residents. This year she came up with the stage adaptation of the “Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka” by Nikolai Gogol.

She spent two nights without sleep trying her best to choose a part for everyone eager to participate. In the end, a way to involve all the people was found. Even Sergey, a stroke survivor who has considerable difficulty speaking, took part.

The dress rehearsal was an event in itself. The elderly actors had a lot of fun just looking at each other and making jokes, some even couldn’t pronounce their lines.

But on the day of the actual performance the elderly residents took a professional attitude and played well, coming up with proper improvisations at the right time.

The audience was fascinated by the performance; they stamped their feet to the music during the dance of Soloha, burst out laughing after jokes and applauded loudly to every new character appearing on the stage. Both the actors and viewers were having a great time.

Even when the performance was over, the fun was not. Father Frost (Ded Moroz) and his granddaughter, the Snow maiden (Snegurochka) came to visit the care home residents and wish the a happy new year.

Key figures of 2018

Last year, we increased the number of professionally trained care specialists by a quarter. 9 care homes joined our project, 5 institutions developed outreach services (home care visits). 225 carers, occupational therapists, physical therapists and event managers work in 34 residential facilities across 13 regions, which means you help us support more than 7000 elderly people and people with disabilities.

Thank you for your kindness and for inspiring us to keep going.

Getting ready for the New Year
Getting ready for the New Year
Care workers help with making decorations
Care workers help with making decorations
Restricted mobility residents singing, talent show
Restricted mobility residents singing, talent show
Russian Care Homes got talent!
Russian Care Homes got talent!
During the performance of Gogol's stories
During the performance of Gogol's stories
Nov 19, 2018

Four times more miracles

Former pianist back at the keyboard
Former pianist back at the keyboard

This year is coming to the end and it’s time to sum up what we have achieved so far.

 

This project began 3 years ago with our foundation providing the wages of 40 additional care workers in 16 nursing homes. As of now, the figures are the following: 163 care workers, 40 event managers and occupational therapists in 33 care homes in 13 regions of Russia. The project has grown to reach four times its initial scale thanks to your support.

 

The crucial outcomes, however, cannot be measured quantitatively. Positive personal stories and experiences which your donations made possible are the most important effects this project could ever have. Here are some of them.

 

The Piano Dream

Galina Georgievna, a resident at the Rzhev care home (Tverskaya region), dedicated her whole life to teaching music to children, more precisely, to giving them piano lessons. Once in the care home she mentioned her dream — to play the instrument one more time. So, the care staff we hired congratulated Galina Georgievna on her 83rd birthday with a cake, flowers and a little miracle too.

They gathered a small audience of residents and staff members to listen to the elderly lady play in the lounge. The fingers of the former music teacher are not that capable now because of polyarthritis but one of our care workers, Tatiana, who attended music school as a child, assisted Galina Georgievna with a couple of tunes. Your interest and donations helped us give her a dream come true as a birthday present.

 

Autumn Quest

In the same Rzhev care home, a game called the “Autumn Quest” took place on September, 14. It was organised by our physiotherapist Svetlana and event managers Marina, Inga and Ekaterina.

To complete various “missions”, the participants used both their logic and physical abilities. The tasks included popping balloons by throwing darts at them, making words out of given letters, knocking things down from a certain distance, mixing colours, tossing rings and so on. The winner was to be awarded with a ripe watermelon, but it turned out quite difficult to choose the champion because everyone was doing their best. In the end, all the participants got their share of the tasty prize. For all of them it was a victory; it was our victory too and yours, as it would very unlikely be possible without your support.

 

Sport is truly for everybody

The elderly residents of a care home in Dubna (Tulskaya region) also wanted to take part in a competition. And for them it turned into a local sports festival with ballgames, riddles and quests. We have grounds to call the residents of this care home the most physically active and sporty among all known to us. That is partially because of the young people with disabilities who also live there, and some of which are armwrestling, darts, powerlifting (!) and wheelchair races champions. Nevertheless, the elderly residents (even with restricted mobility, those in need of special care and activities) rushed into the competitions, guided by our attentive and enthusiastic care worker Elena. The main reward for them was good mood, new vigour, adrenaline and courage – all of which they got thanks to your help.

 

Happy to share

 

Now let’s switch to Smolenskaya region and the residents of a care home in a small, yet cozy town Vyazma. They are true animal lovers, – so when they got to know that their event manager Olesya could organise a trip to a home for stray dogs, imagine how happy they were!  

In a way there is something common between these both kinds of residents: each of them has a unique story to tell, and all of them lack communication and a kind word of encouragement. So for a day elderly care home residents, who usually welcome and host volunteers, became volunteers themselves, gifting their time and emotions to homeless dogs. What could the latter give in return? Wagging their tails and shaking paws - and also feeling happy and relieved that somebody came over to make friends with them.

Even though the day was cold, the elderly guests of the dogs’ home were not eager to come back. In the evening they felt thankful to Olesya and also relieved that had done something worthy, kind and right for the world around.

 

Letting those in need help someone else in turn and share their love and warmth is a small miracle. It doesn't seem to be a big deal for us, but is actually so meaningful and fair. Thank you for making these miracles happen: without Tatiana, Svetlana, Elena, Olesya and many other care workers, whom we can hire and pay with your help, the days of the elderly would have lacked this attention, joy, love and support they need so much. And those are the things we would like to wish you in return while Christmas and the New Year time comes closer. Be happy, share and pay attention to the little miracles happening to you and because of you!  

Quest participants with their prize
Quest participants with their prize
Sport is for everybody
Sport is for everybody
Local sport festival in Dubna care home
Local sport festival in Dubna care home
They have something to tell each other
They have something to tell each other
 
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