A WREXHAM-based charity has won a national award for its work offering health, care and wellbeing services to older people in rural communities.

The Rainbow Foundation (TRF) was chosen from more than 400 charities across the UK as one of the 10 winners of the 2023 GSK IMPACT Awards, which are delivered in partnership with leading health and care charity The King's Fund.

Now in their 26th year, the awards are a mark of excellence in the charity sector, designed to recognise the outstanding work of small and medium-sized charities working to improve people's health and wellbeing in the UK. This year winners will receive £40,000 in unrestricted funding, as well as expert support and leadership development provided by The King's Fund. 

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A fifth of people in Wrexham are over 64 and nearly a third live in a rural area. North Wales has an ageing population, with an increasing prevalence of dementia and frailty amongst older people. Established in 1993 to offer support and prevent isolation of older people with health and care needs in Penley, TRF has grown in recent years and now runs three hubs across Wrexham.

These wellbeing hubs offer a range of services, including their flagship day opportunities service, which provides daily exercise classes, lunch and social activities to combat loneliness and promote active ageing for older people including those with advanced dementia.

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Judges praised TRF for stepping in where other services had left a gap. The charity is based in a largely rural area, which can make it difficult to deliver services, and some other organisations had ceased providing home care services. As a result, some of the older people TRF supports found they were stranded in hospital for months as no one was able to support them when they were discharged back home.

TRF now offers a home care service to provide personal care, such as help getting washed and dressed. Visits take place seven days a week and are an hour long, rather than industry standard of 15 minutes.

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Following the closure of post offices in the area, TRF also stepped in to operate a 'pop up' post office service from two of its wellbeing hubs.

The judges noted the work TRF has done to ensure its services extend to rural areas across Wrexham and North Shropshire. The charity now delivers nutritious meals to older people, particularly those who are housebound. Volunteers also provide transport to and from the charity's wellbeing hubs and support with community shopping trips.

Its services are deeply embedded in the local community, for example through its Community Agents who work across South Wrexham to provide people over 50 with practical support such as accessing the benefits they are entitled to or using digital technology to attending local lunch clubs to reduce isolation.

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At the day opportunities service in Penley, children from the local nursery join older people for singing, crafts and games. People attending the sessions also help to look after the six hens who live in the centre's community garden.

TRF works closely with the local NHS and social care services. It has four social prescribing staff who are based in all 21 GP surgeries in Wrexham, providing holistic advice and practical support for issues such as anxiety and depression, making positive lifestyle changes, managing chronic conditions, loneliness and financial worries.

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TRF has also recently joined a taskforce of local healthcare professionals to pilot a voluntary 'Red Bag' scheme in South Wrexham. The bags are used to transfer paperwork, medication, and personal belongings with a patient when they are admitted to hospital from home or a care home in an emergency.

Caroline Tudor-James, CEO of Rainbow Foundation, said: "It's an honour to be recognised by The Kings Fund and GSK for the work we are doing in our sector, and a great boost for our team who are all doing such an amazing job. We hope the award will raise the profile of all our outstanding services, help us to advocate louder on behalf of our services users, and also help us to reach more people across Wrexham who would benefit from our support."

Lisa Weaks, senior associate at The King's Fund, added: "The Rainbow Foundation is a small but rapidly expanding charity which is doing exemplary work to help older people in rural parts of Wrexham and Shropshire maintain their wellbeing and independence. The charity has imaginatively and proactively developed solutions to local issues."