A Hastings care home is keeping families up to date with its latest news by issuing its own newspaper.

Like homes across the county, Hastings Court on The Ridge has closed its doors to all but essential visits due to the COVID-19 outbreak. And while families aren’t able to see their loved ones, they can get a window on day-to-day life through The Hastings Court Crier, a weekly newspaper written by the residents.

Editorial meeting

The editorial team meet each week to decide on the stories they’re going to cover and which articles to include that have been sent in by families. The paper is the brainchild of the home’s Lifestyles team, led by Kimberley Mann.

The newspaper is giving residents a new lease of life and is unleashing their creativity. Because they’re tasked with going around the home and interviewing people (safely), it’s building their confidence, too. 

“The paper’s been up and running for four weeks and already we’re seeing such a change in our residents,” said Home Manager, Georgina Gamble. “People don’t move into residential care because they’ve come to the end of their useful life. This newspaper, and our political discussion group, The League of Residents, are showing how engaged people want to be and the benefits it brings them.”

Resident Hilda Wright likes to spend her time in her room, so involving her in daily activities can be difficult. To include her in the project, the team have made her the Crier’s agony aunt. “We bring her people’s daily dilemmas from a post box we’ve set up downstairs,” said Kimberley. “She feels part of what’s going on and her advice can be very amusing!”

The in-house table football tournaments between residents on the home’s three floors are covered by sports reporter, David Lee, together with the Corridor Putting Challenge. The paper also has an entertainment correspondent, a beauty writer, an art critic and a cartoonist. 

Clare Braybon, 60, has lived at Hastings Court for three years and is The Crier’s social correspondent. 

“I’m enjoying it so much. I wasn’t sure how I would feel about interviewing people, and it does keep me awake at night sometimes thinking about whether I want to change the copy I’ve written, but I feel now I could go and talk to anyone about anything!”

Among the stories the paper has featured are the wartime memories of resident Alan Crouch, who recalled his tale of finding his ‘fearless’ younger brother atop a doodlebug bomb that had landed in a potato field during the Second World War. The paper has also uncovered a former board member of Crystal Palace football club and a resident with his own experience of running a residential home.

While the residents are abreast of the day’s news outside the home, The Hastings Court Crier has so far avoided the topic of the Coronavirus outbreak.

“The content is very much decided by the residents and they want to focus on good news,” said Kimberley. “Having something to smile about is great for everyone’s wellbeing.”

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