Residents star in lockdown comedy radio show at Preston care home

Elderly residents at Finney House care home have been been recording their own parody version of the famous radio drama 'The Archers' in lockdown.

All aged between 83 and 99, the residents who have been staying at Preston s Finney House in lockdown, are showing you are never told old to try something new and have starred in their own parody of a radio play based around life at a care home.

The spoof of the classic radio play, which was written just for them, ‘The Haharchers’ is a fictitious comedy radio play based on comical five-minute snap-shots of life of the 96 residents currently living at Finney House, on Sir Tom Finney Way.

Scripts have already been written for the first five episodes by Louise Harder, a communications worker with L&M Healthcare, and include humorous conversations between residents over an afternoon tea.

She said: "When the pandemic started, we had to focus on what was important, which was the welfare of the residents in our care. We had to think of new ways to keep them in touch with loved ones and their family so started with Zoom and Whatsapp calls.

"This was tricky in itself because it was all new for everyone, with the staff and residents all having to adapt. We became creative with Facebook and social media, so starting filming talking postcards and video messages to send to families who couldn't see their loved ones.

"From there, we quickly realised it was becoming an activity that our residents enjoyed, so we kept thinking of different activities to keep them engaged such as talent shows, and then the radio play was the next step as we were becoming more confident and our residents were even keener to be involved."

The idea was created in a bid to keep residents entertained and engaged when they were forced to isolate and unable to see visitors during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Residents recorded their parts with a mobile phone before it was produced by marketing staff

Along with other care homes in the county, residents can now see an allocated family member as part of the lockdown restrictions easing.

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After coming up with the idea, Louise sent the script to the residents with instructions on how to record their voices easily using smartphones.

Colleague Philip Pitcher then edited the files into a package, creating the five episodes of The Haharchers ready to be listened to and streamed online.

The Finney House care home at Sir Tom Finney Way, Preston has been encouraging residents to take part in the radio series

And clips of the radio series have been broadcast on BBC Radio Lancashire's morning show with Graham Liver.

Louise added: "Most of our residents grew up listening to radio plays in their era, and the idea first came to me a while ago when I was filming with a crew in a care home and two residents were discussing what was going on, which really tickled me at the time.

"They were putting two and two together and making five, and I thought it would be a great idea for a sitcom because it was just so comical to watch.

"The response from families has been amazing, it is a great way for people to see their family members are coping through such difficult times in care homes.

On the left is Doreen Ollis aged 98 and on the right is Jenny Harris aged 99 years old from the Finney House care home

"In the lockdown, staff have had to take on new roles and become hairdressers, entertainers, friends and even surrogate family members. It has been amazing and activities like this has really got us through this year and given residents a chance to try new things."

Jen Stutter, Activities Coordinator at Finney House added: "This has been such a fun thing to do. Our residents have done incredibly well and we are looking forward to producing the next episode".

And Jo Fogg, L&M Healthcare’s new Quality and Clinical Director, said: "We are constantly looking at new ways to engage our residents in meaningful and stimulating activities.

"For some of the residents involved this has been the first time they have tried anything like this. We think it is fabulous and are very proud of what they have achieved."

Listen to Episode One 'The Gardener' HERE.

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