HC-One’s Summerhill Care Home, in Kendal, Cumbria, is celebrating World Environment Day on June 5, 2024, by highlighting several eco-friendly projects. World Environment Day is the United Nations’ day for encouraging worldwide awareness and action to protect the environment.

This year’s theme focuses on areas including land restoration and drought resilience, with activity termed ‘Generation Restoration’. Summerhill Care Home uses its abundance of picturesque green space to maximum effect and has attracted many new residents to the home in the process.

Summerhill’s green initiatives include the creation of a wildflower meadow to enhance biodiversity, and butterfly and bird boxes handmade by residents to help maintain and increase the numbers of some rare or threatened species. The home also plans to install a wildlife webcam in the garden to capture the bird and animal activity and share the footage with residents.

The home’s other green measures include installing beehives that produce ‘Summerhill’ honey and the planting of apple trees – which Summerhill will use to produce jam for the residents and colleagues to enjoy. Summerhill hopes to evolve its “self-sustaining” approach by also growing potatoes and radishes, which will be used by the home’s catering team to produce nourishing and varied meals for residents.

Many of Summerhill’s residents enjoy gardening and their green fingers have helped create beautiful flowerbeds. Residents with mobility issues also enjoy the pretty garden areas from the perches of the home’s new suite of outdoor furniture.

A new pond has been created on the green complete with its own solar-powered water pump which continually generates fresh water. The water feature is a source of considerable interest to residents – especially when it plays home to tadpoles.

The care home also receives support from the local Neighbourhood Watch group who also enjoy the home’s plentiful outside space. The creation of a community allotment is planned for later in 2024.

Summerhill Wellbeing Coordinator, Sean Moore, is building on his aim of the home’s green becoming a “community hub”. Summerhill colleagues have also been creating a book share area at the home’s entrance, which was made using wood recycled from a monastery in Nepal, South Asia.

The book share area will enable the local community and children from Ghyllside Primary School to swap books with residents, which will help the home become more “community-led”. Sean plans to replicate Summerhill’s eco-friendly and community-led initiatives at two of HC-One’s Penrith based care homes – Cold Springs Park and Winters Park.

Sean will then turn his attention to the other homes within his region and he aims to work with other HC-One Wellbeing Co-ordinators across the UK to support them with their eco-friendly initiatives.

Sean Moore, Wellbeing Co-ordinator at Summerhill Care Home, said:

“We are very fortunate to have such an abundance of green areas and our aim is for all our residents to enjoy this space especially during the summer months and for Summerhill to help preserve our natural environment for future generations.

“We will be continuing our ‘garden to fork’ approach over the summer and I will be working closely with our chef, gardener, and the local community to determine the best fruit and vegetables to plant to devise a series of highly nutritious and enjoyable meals for residents. I would be delighted if we could grow around 30-40% of our own food over time.”

Mark Meacham, Head of Catering and Housekeeping Support Services, stated:

“HC-One is striving to make our homes as self-sustaining as possible. It is truly inspiring to see the hard work taking place across Summerhill to preserve our environment by producing homegrown fruit and vegetables.

“Our Catering and Housekeeping Support Services will continue to support our homes on their initiatives by providing training covering tips and techniques for sustainable meal planning.”

In March 2024, HC-One homes (including Snapethorpe Hall in Yorkshire) supported the 2024 Food Waste Action Week. There are also ongoing commitments from HC-One to reduce the levels of food waste across all its care homes.

HC-One also provides residents (with dietary preferences) a choice of nutritious vegetarian and vegan meals to further reduce the organisation’s environmental impact. As highlighted in a recent United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report food waste is a major global issue, with approximately one billion tonnes of food being wasted each year, equating to one-fifth of all food available to consumers.

Wider eco-friendly initiatives are also being rolled-out across more of HC-One’s homes in 2024. These will include adding solar panels; installing electric vehicle (EV) charging points; decarbonising homes by removing gas appliances from the kitchens; and replacing gas tumble dryers with innovative air source heat pump dryers.