The Brighter Days project involved a series of events hosted at Tweedsmuir retirement village in Vicars Cross, on ‘special’ dates throughout the year. Residents and older members of the local community were invited to take part in activities to celebrate these special occasions whilst enjoying some friendly company.
A Scheme Officer was employed to deliver the project, co-producing each event alongside a steering group of older people.
Participants were recruited from within the retirement village and via referrals from local healthcare professionals, community organisations and specialist service providers. The number of referrals received from within the local community was lower than had originally been anticipated. Despite efforts to build a referral network, most of the participants from the community came directly into the scheme after hearing about it through word of mouth.
Like many other Brightlife delivery partners, the Brighter Days project team reported challenges with the administration of the CMF evaluation questionnaire. New participants, particularly those who were most socially isolated, were often resistant to engaging with the evaluation: they “just want to socialise and enjoy having an opportunity to connect with others.”
However, it was acknowledged that there were benefits to investing time in this process by helping new participants complete the CMF questionnaire: “[it] gives a much clearer picture of what they want to gain from the project, what their interests and how best to engage with them.”
The project team embraced the ‘test and learn’ principles of the Brightlife program, successfully using their extension funding to build on what they had learned during the first year in order to expand delivery to a number of other care homes in Year 2.