Case study: Meet Me At The Albany – a grown-ups’ playground

The kind of stereotype-smashing thing that sticks two knitting needles up at anyone who dares assume day care for older people is about flower arranging and endless cups of tea – SABA SALMAN, The Social Issue

I was recently told that the general belief across the care home sector is that of their residents like to participate in activities which involve children, pets and music; quite passive, manageable activities which will be appreciated across this diverse population! Meet Me At The Albany blows this belief out of the water and is in fact the antithesis of the traditional day centre model. Meet Me At The Albany is an all day arts club for people over 60 and resulted from a pioneering commissioner knocking on the door of the local arts sector to invite them to participate in the well-being of the older population.

When you walk through the doors of The Albany, you won’t find quiet participants knitting or sleeping in their chairs. The members of this club are more likely to be found suspended on silks in circus training, learning photography or honing their skills in creative writing and poetry workshops. The club combines drama teachers and artists with the local population and invites them to try out something new, discovering hidden creativity and talents along the way.

The result is inspirational and the energy of all the participants infectious. Not only do the members love the variety of opportunities on offer and the relationships they forge with other members, they often surprise themselves with what they can achieve. The feeling is reciprocated by the teachers who report developing a different mindset as they share their skills with people older than them and with more life experience.

I can never understand why they don’t have more places like this – it’s made my life much much better. (Club member)

The members aren’t just active at the club, they also help to decide how their club is run and what they wish to get involved in next; it seems that anything is possible! Check out their website to see it all in action and next week we will be showcasing their film to really bring their club to life.

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