Customers and staff give our new newsletter thumbs up
A newsletter launched for customers at our retirement living schemes has got a big thumbs up from residents and staff who eagerly anticipate its weekly delivery.
Customers are not just reading the aptly titled As Time Goes By, they are doing the recipes, picture colouring and puzzles and sending in their own content for publication.
Editor Wayne Exton, our lifestyle change manager, said: “The response has been fantastic. We knew what sort of content would appeal to our customers but we didn’t anticipate how popular it would become.”
Feedback from readers – customers and staff – is hugely positive with many commenting how it has helped them through lockdown and that they look forward to delivery day.
Wayne explained that the concept for the newsletter was not only about supporting and entertaining customers who were isolated in their own homes during lockdown, unable to use communal areas or receive visits from family and friends.
“The newsletter is now a valuable part of our broader lifestyle programme introduced with the aim of making our retirement living schemes places where residents can live a good life by promoting social inclusion, diversity, health and wellbeing, independent living and learning,” he explained.
“The demographics of people living in all retirement services are becoming increasingly diverse and it’s essential we respond to that and ensure our schemes are welcoming and help our customers to feel included, regardless of their background, religion or culture.”
Launched early 2019, the programme has been shortlisted for a prestigious UK Housing Award. The winners were to have been announced in May but this has been rescheduled for September.
“With restrictions on social contact, gatherings and visitors, the newsletter helps us get information and activities safely into customers’ homes and helps them feel less isolated.
“Most of our schemes are small communities within bigger local multi-cultural communities so it’s important that the activities and events we offer, including the newsletter, reflect this. For instance, as well as our traditional Christmas celebrations, Diwali and Chinese New Year were marked with awareness-raising events that many of our customers said they enjoyed learning about.
“The period of lockdown included Easter and the Muslim festival of Ramadan and we felt it important these events did not pass unmarked and were featured in our newsletters. It’s also covered VE Day and international and national awareness campaigns such as World Sleep Day, Men’s Health Week and National Biscuit Day. We try to have a theme each week and to mark key events in the calendar.
“We did receive negative feedback from a small number of residents who questioned the inclusion of Ramadan-themed material which shows why there is a need to be proactive about promoting – and celebrating – diversity.
“Naturally, there will always be customers who aren’t interested in that week’s specific topic – our female customers might say, for example, they don’t want to read about men’s health, or those that have no problem dropping off could argue the edition that focused on sleeplessness was not useful – but hopefully they will enjoy the following week’s newsletter.”
As Time Goes By has a weekly distribution of around 6,000 and is sent via email to those who prefer to read online, whilst scheme managers are printing copies and posting through the letterboxes of all other customers who wish to receive one.
Poems are the most popular feature of the newsletter, while a recipe for plum bread – dug out by a Hamilton Court resident whose mother cooked it in the war - was devoured by residents.
Resident Ruth, said: “Thanks for sending details of TV programmes [to mark VE Day]. I watched every one and enjoyed the memories they brought back; I was there in Pall Mall and saw the Royal Family come out on the balcony.”
Margaret from Fernleigh Court, said: “I am very fond of this newsletter and hopefully it will continue to be produced. So please keep up the good work.”
Simon, whose mother-in-law lives at one of our Wolverhampton schemes emailed to say the newsletter was “a cracking job” and keeping her and her friends occupied and busy. “Midland Heart have been really professional and looked after your residents. You really care and I thank you for that,” he said.
Scheme managers have praised the publication too, commenting: ”It’s really helping residents to feel that they are being thought of at this difficult time by Midland Heart,” and “Thank you for all the newsletters and the hard work going into them, they really do go down well here and people look forward to getting them,” while another staff member enthused: “I think they’re very good. I’ve been doing the crosswords and recipes, and quizzes with my friends on Zoom!”