Westhoughton Community Network

group for and run by community groups in Westhoughton

Senior Solutions (formerly Westhoughton Visiting Service) offering visiting, social support and relief to carers in and around WesthoughtonSenior Solutions

About Us

Rebranded Senior Solutions in September 2013, being previously known as Westhoughton Visiting Service, the name change had been planned and implemented to reflect not only the broader nature of services offered but also the wider geographic coverage of the service beyond Westhoughton. With this change there was a new logo, literature, uniform and website.

Westhoughton Visiting Service special lunch to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee in 2012The charity was set up in 1997 by Phil Mason, who brought in Jean Jones, who managed the service until 2015, its aim to combat isolation amongst older people (age 55 and above), and over the years has expanded from Westhoughton to also cover surrounding districts such as Over Hulton, Blackrod and Horwich.

Senior Solutions sees its role as a go-between between other health and community services to provide care and support for older people whilst allowing greater independence – People Oriented | Personal Service | Positive Impact.

2016 was a big year for Senior Solutions with it leaving the Community Learning Centre (Central Drive) where it had been based for many years. In the summer 2016 the team relocated its main office to newly refurbished facilities at the Bolton Council run Winifred Kettle Centre (a Health Centre for Westhoughton), in doing so becoming a more integrated part of local community support services. In January 2017 an important milestone was reached with the group celebrating its 20th anniversary with a number of events, whilst continuing to provide an indispensable service.

In 2018 Senior Solutions transitioned to become a 'Charitable Incorporated Organisation' (CIO) with a new Registered Charity Number (1177601); and the new 'Telephone Befriending Service' was launched, and Senior Solutions was nominated for a 'Queen's Award for Voluntary Service'.

Service Provision (2023) covers: Befriending, Sitting-in Support, the Tuesday Social Group, Luncheon Club, Telephone Befriending, an Allotment, Warm Space/Breakfast Club, Carers Group. This service is delivered by Scheme Manager, Michelle Todd, 3 Co-ordinators (Kirsty, Kath and Lorna) and over 100 dedicated volunteers. Overseen by a committed Board of Trustees, Ron Bell (Rotary Club of Westhoughton) took over as Chair in 2018. Annual General Meetings are held in the autumn (late September).

We currently serve some 400 clients (visits/telephone befriending/carer support). Referrals for support have been increasing, almost doubling since 2021. All this could not be done without our volunteers, and regular volunteer meetings are held where we share ideas to give our volunteers a voice. This means that the service can innovate and events and activities such as themed parties, fayres, cinema events and days out. Passion and enthusiasm seen throughout.

Working with outside bodies Senior Solutions can deliver in areas of health screening and digital exclusion to boost confidence in computers and getting online.

A registered charity funded partly by Bolton Social Services and through ad hoc grants obtained through other sources. In 2023-24, Senior Solutions is again one of the Town Mayor's chosen charities. We apply for grant funding and are grateful for donations to help both provide the service but expand our activities and projects - for example, with health and fitness in mind, occasional organised local walks, not too strenuous but good fun! In line with the success and growing remit of Senior Solutions, funding such as the 'Health and Wellbeing Investment Fund' allows the expansion of the service new part-time Coordinator roles being created. Funding obtained is also used to support the carers themselves.

Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

Queens Award for Voluntary Service awarded to Senior Solutions in 2019. In the summer of 2018 Senior Solutions was nominated for a Queens Award in Volunteering, which is equivalent to an MBE in the Voluntary Sector. The award recognises exceptional service to the community over a long period. The nomination was made by a volunteer whose husband had benefited from the service and was supported by Westhoughton Community Network.

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service is the highest award given to volunteer groups across the UK to recognise exceptional service within their communities. There is a thorough vetting process with winners announced on 2nd June - the anniversary of the Queen's Coronation; the award acknowledges the incredible difference volunteers make to so many people's lives and their communities across the country.

Senior Solutions is proud to be recognised for "Making a positive difference for older people by combating loneliness and isolation." The Award was announced at a special celebration event on Friday, 7th June 2019, attended by MP and community representatives; volunteers all receiving a badge and certificate.

Why Are We Needed?

As people grow older they can become socially isolated and lonely for a variety of reasons. We offer a visiting service that offers friendship, companionship and support to a growing number of older people who can benefit by feeling respected, valued and involved in their own community.

Our service is free, confidential and professional (voluntary does not mean amateur) and we pride ourselves on our successes. We are conscious too of the many benefits to be enjoyed by becoming a volunteer.

We recognise that isolation might not necessarily mean living alone, therefore a 'Sitting-in Service' is also offered, offering respite from the caring responsibilities to the Carer of an older person with special needs.

A day out arranged by Westhoughton Visiting Service (Senior Solutions) In addition to our general Visiting/Sitting-in Service, a popular Tuesday afternoon Social Group was established offering a diverse range of entertainment and activities; it is open to clients, carers and volunteers (there is a £3 charge - refreshments included). There were 2 well-established luncheon clubs, where we prepare and serve a hot cooked meal on Mondays at Thurstons and Thursdays at Ryeland Court for any older person who feels socially isolated, now consolidated and at the Winifred Kettle. We ask older people to contact us for availability and we are happy to arrange transport for those who are unable through age and frailty to arrange their own.

Tuesday Social Club

First delivered in early 2016 at Sacred Heart Church, Lord Street, Westhoughton (BL5 3SE) with a short spell at the Pentecostal Church on Bolton Road, this is a regular feature of our programme - Tuesday afternoons 2pm to 4pm at the Winifred Kettle - a 'Social Group' set up to offer a bit of company, social interaction, arts and crafts, some fun, and entertainment for Senior Solutions elderly clients and their carers.

Senior Solution's Tuesday Social Club at the Winifred Kettle - Valentine's Day with the George Formby Society (2023).Very popular, it is an initiative to combat social isolation, offering a couple of hours of chat, board games, quizzes and fun activities such as a chair-based exercise class and 'Knit-2-Gether'. A couple of times a month there are guest speakers and workshops of interest to the group. Occasionally we will have entertainment.

In 2020/2021 Covid Lockdown measures hit all social activities which were put on hold. The visiting service impacted too with workarounds put in place. Day Care had been moved out of the Winifred Kettle and Senior Solutions were able to use the space for activities from 2022.

Our Volunteers

Our service could not operate without the commitment and kindness for others that our volunteers show. Some give 1 hour per week to our service and some volunteers give 15 hours per week. They make a huge difference to older people in our community, and all volunteers undergo an induction training session before they are allowed to visit.

Every volunteer is required to provide 2 references and have a Disclosure & Barring Service check (formerly CRB) for the safety of our clients - we can help volunteers with this. Our volunteers are good listeners, open minded, with a genuine desire to help older people. Volunteering builds self-confidence, and for those who are looking to have a career in the Care Sector can be a valuable tool in finding employment in the sector.

We provide volunteers with expenses (if incurred), support and training, monthly contact meetings and monthly social get-togethers. As a volunteer you will have the opportunity to develop social skills, make new friends and have social interaction with older people and like minded others who care about the local community.

Trustee Roles

In order to plan and manage operations, fundraising and general strategy, Senior Solutions needs good people with an interest in caring for older people, some experience of the voluntary sector and useful skills, volunteers who can be part of and strengthen the management team. The Board meets three to four times a year, and provides important support and guidance for day-to-day operations. Enquiries are always welcome - feel free to contact us or call for an informal chat about our Trustee roles.

Past Initiatives

Greater Manchester Festival of Ageing

Senior Solutions was one of the partners involved in the Greater Manchester-wide 'Festival of Ageing' (2nd-15th July 2018), celebrating age (50+), and encouraging the over-50s to try out new activities and look at volunteering. Various activities were offered including: taster sessions at Westhoughton Golf Club; a pamper evening; electronic device advice from pupils at Westhoughton High School; chair-based exercise; knitter-natter, and a film night… with the possibility of a film night can become a regular monthly event at the Winifred Kettle. Details

Time For You

'Time For You' is a new project working in partnership with Bolton Carer Support, Mhist, Band, and Age UK to deliver a borough-wide befriending service to Carers and their cared for. Already delivering this service on a smaller scale, Senior Solutions will be working closely with lead partners, Bolton Carer Support. Senior Solutions has been awarded a grant of £10,000 from the 'Health and Wellbeing Investment Fund', allowing the creation of a new job position to support the project.

Fitter Fans

In 2015, Senior Solutions became involved in an initiative aimed at the over-60s promoting health and well-being through physical activity and health awareness.

Funded by 'Awards for All', a programme was put together by Bolton Wanderers Community Trust offering a series of 3 x 12 week blocks of 2-hour workshops (general health and I.T. awareness) with light physical exercise, held at the Macron Stadium (Bolton Wanderers). The first Wednesday sessions ran from the 30th September to 16th December; the second ran from 13th January to 30th March 2016, a third course ran from 27th April to 13th July.

Targeting over 60 year olds, the free twelve-week programme will offer the opportunity to take part in light physical activities such as walking football, table tennis, circuit training and badminton. The programme also includes workshops on healthy living and well-being - examples being emergency lifesaving skills, importance of exercise and diet and nutrition.

Further information: call Richard Slater on 01204 673790 or e-mail or visit Bolton Wanderers Community Trust website.

Home From Hospital

In late 2014, in partnership with Age UK Bolton and funded by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), took part in a pilot project 'Home From Hospital.' Separate from our existing service, but a good fit with our skills, values and objectives.

The service designed to keep elderly, discharged people out of hospital whilst they get used to being back home during the all-important first few weeks, and so help prevent unnecessary re-admission to hospital, with referrals for people who are 65+, live in the Borough of Bolton and need support on discharge from hospital to help them recover. With contact maintained for a 6 week period, the aim to re-able the patient back to a normal life and encourage them to take part in community activities. Volunteers visit people in their homes to ensure that they are warm and comfortable, have the basic foods they need and their prescriptions are collected. They are helped to tackle any backlog of mail that may have accumulated and encouraged to do their physiotherapy exercises. They are offered a listening ear and given emotional support at a difficult time.

Taking on a new co-ordinator and new volunteers, Senior Solutions dealt with discharged patients in the area covered by our normal visiting service. The pilot scheme over, our participation helped feed into the evaluation of the scheme to be developed and rolled out at a future point.

Getting In Touch

If you would like to come along and have a chat about volunteering or, alternatively, if you feel you would benefit or know of someone who would benefit from any of our services, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

For our visiting service, you can refer yourself. Note: Social Workers, GPs, District Nurses, Community Psychiatric Nurses or the person's own family can refer people but only with their permission.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for further information or help.

Main contact: Michelle Todd - Scheme Manager
Phone: 01204 335107
Email: Senior Solutions (write)

Website: Senior Solutions

Facebook Senior SolutionsSenior Solutions Facebook Page | Twitter Senior Solutions@snrsol

Bowling practice: an activity session organised by Westhoughton Visiting Service (Senior Solutions) Senior Solutions
Winifred Kettle

Phone: 01204 335107

'Charitable Incorporated Organisation' (CIO) No. 1177601 (2018)

Formerly Westhoughton Visiting Service

Page last updated: 19/2/24.

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