Letters’ lifeline for almshouse residents

17th July 2020

Residents of York’s almshouses have been among the many people coping with enforced social shielding during lockdown – and we’re very proud of the work of our Almshouse Administrator Emma Davis to help make their lives easier.

When the lockdown was declared at the end of March, Emma rang every resident of each almshouse we manage, or their family, to check they were okay and give them details of the council’s Covid-19 helpline. Since then she has provided a regular link to the outside world for the most vulnerable among the population of York’s almshouses – founded by charities to house older local people who might otherwise struggle to live independently.

Emma has been checking that they are receiving food deliveries, telling them about local grocers who deliver, making sure they have access to medication – and taking the time to ask how they are and have a chat.

Letters has received several emails and calls from residents grateful for the regular contact with Emma and the help she has provided. The Chair of Trustees from Ann Harrison’s Almshouse sent her flowers with the message: “Thank you so much for all the help you have been to me and the ‘ladies’ over the past few months.”

Keeping residents “cocooned and safe”

Emma said: “I’ve tried to ensure that each almshouse complex and the residents within are kept cocooned and safe. One real positive is that I have become closer to a lot of the residents than I would have under normal circumstances. I’ve spoken to family members too. It has been a privilege to try to ensure that these residents remained safe.”

Like many people who have had to shield over the last few months, some residents confessed they were struggling with being confined indoors. Emma, who has herself had to shield at home, said: “Many of the residents are lonely and we can compare notes on what it feels like to ‘not go out’ of our homes for such a long time. I’ve basically been chatting to them and reassuring them. I’ve got to know many of them well.”

Mindful of the risk of coronavirus poses to care homes, Emma (pictured, right) has been careful to ensure that only emergency contractors enter the almshouses, and that families only visit from a safe distance. She said: “To date, we have had only one suspected coronavirus case at an almshouse, and the resident recovered. I ensured that she remained isolated, away from all the other residents.”

Weekly report

Emma has also put together a weekly report for almshouse trustees, including a breakdown of any maintenance works carried out at the almshouses, as well as a note on how the residents she has spoken to are faring.

Letters Managing Director Anya Mathewson said: “These are extraordinary circumstances and we felt it important to go above and beyond our day to day almshouse management to provide a pastoral service to the potentially vulnerable residents.

“Emma is the perfect person to have done this, especially as she shielding, too, so can really empathise. Her work has strengthened our relationship with the residents, provided a much-valued link to the outside world for some of them – and reminded us that the value of a weekly chat cannot be underestimated.”

Letters is very proud of the service it provides to almshouses in York. Contact us to discuss how we might manage your almshouse property.