Mitzvah Day invaluable for the elderly says head of Golders Green care home

Polly Landsberg, the CEO of Sage Care Home in Golders Green talks about the huge benefits of volunteering at retirement homes

Life expectancy in the Western world has been increasing steadily for more than 100 years, but a longer life doesn’t always mean a better life. A move to a care home can bring mixed feelings.

For some, it is a welcome respite to a safe and secure environment, but for others it brings a loss of independence and withdrawal from that person’s familiar surroundings.

For some, they were the ones going out to visit and chat to others, but when they become too frail to do that, they need us to go and visit them.

As well as attending to physical needs, a good care home will provide for emotional, spiritual and religious needs.

This means not only a stimulating and varied formal programme of events, but also the provision of support to allow residents to be treated with dignity and respect at all times and to enable them to follow a way of life as close as possible to the way they have always done.

A visit by a local kindergarten, a school choir or from members of a youth group can bring untold benefits to both the visitors and those who are being visited.

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Visitors, in particular the young, can learn so much from older generations and begin to understand the role they – even at a young age – can play in society.

For those being visited, the companionship each visit brings enables them to continue to feel like a valued member of their community.

Sometimes these volunteers can be the only outside visitor a resident receives.

Just one visit can be a catalyst for burgeoning friendships, which may continue to flourish long after that first encounter.

People living in care homes have so many fascinating stories and life accounts and we have much to learn from them.

The Mitzvah Day Ham&High Challenge, now in its fourth year, is a brilliant reminder to us all of how little time we need to give to make a big difference.

Come with a group, friend or partner and we’ll introduce you to someone who would love to benefit from your visit.

I sincerely hope that each and every one of you will rise to the challenge and take a little time on November 18 to visit just one of the main care homes in your area. It will be worth your while.

To get involved with the Ham&High Challenge, email or call 020 7433 5160. The Ham&High can arrange a care home for your group to visit, or you can choose one yourself. See for more volunteering ideas.