School of Health and Society 20.11.20

The Salford student helping care home residents stay in touch with loved ones

Third year University of Salford student Joelle Davis brought her local community in Gibraltar together this year with her determination to raise funding for her grandmother Alice’s care home.

The campaign raised enough money to provide 14 Samsung tablets for the residents, meaning they could stay in touch with friends and family during lockdown.

Alice was diagnosed with dementia in 2018, but thanks to research from the Alzheimer's Society and other local organisations, as well as her own determination and strong will, her family say she remained relatively well until the start of 2020.

Unfortunately, this year she began showing signs of decline. Joelle says: “Things got more difficult for her and for our family, but we were there for her day after day, paying her visits at her fantastic and loving care home, Mount Alvernia.”

However, in March 2020, Covid-19 meant that all elderly residential services in Gibraltar were locked down. “It was devastating,” Joelle tells us. “This meant no more visits, tough phone calls and further decline. I felt like I was losing precious time with my grandmother.”

But Joelle remained positive. “We were only allowed out for essentials and exercise, but this gave me an idea of how to win back some of the lost time with my grandmother. I decided to set up a fundraiser in her name – ‘Run for Alice’ - and run a whole marathon in the duration of a month to raise money for our local care homes and to provide them with goods.”

Joelle got the rest of her family and friends involved and they started to spread the word. Posting daily updates on social media lead to more and more donations. “Seeing our whole community come together to help us out was surreal, nothing I’d ever felt before. We got support from friends, family, strangers, local businesses and even got an interview on Gibraltar’s largest broadcasting radio! In no time, people were using their daily exercise to run for Alice and spread the word. It was truly moving.” 

As a student radiographer, Joelle was on clinical placement throughout 2020, working while completing her fundraising. She says this was an added incentive in raising the funds. “As a radiographer, you meet many Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Our work can help aid the diagnosis of this disease, making it even more special to me. I understand the difficulties that come from working with dementia patients due to my personal experiences with my grandmother, so I’m always keen to spread awareness to my classmates about working with dementia patients.”

Over the month, Joelle surpassed her goal of running 26.2 miles, and the fundraising total soared. “We proudly purchased 14 Samsung tablets, meaning residents of the care home could video call their families during this chaotic time. My grandmother was able to get her own one with a personal number. I will never forget that emotional and unbelievably proud moment when she rang me for the first time.”

With the remaining funds, Joelle purchased 60 colouring books and 37 colouring pencil packs for the care home – colouring in together was a favourite activity shared with her grandmother in pre-lockdown visits.

But despite having already achieved more than her initial target, Joelle has no plans to stop any time soon. “I’m adamant to continue fundraising and researching to help this heart-breaking disease! The ‘Run for Alice’ fundraiser is still open for donations and I will continue to donate to the care homes as well as the charities with every donation received.”

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