Feb 05, 2024, 07:40 PM

Care Home Residents Seek Pen Pals To Support Language Learning

Care home residents have put out a call for their foreign care home counterparts to get involved with an engaging new pen pal scheme.

This cross-cultural endeavour aims to promote language learning and build meaningful friendships among seniors in both communities.

The call comes after residents at Renaissance Care Group homes engaged in foreign language lessons with Glasgow based charity, Lingo Flamingo.

Residents are now eager to expand their horizons and delve into the language learned through correspondence with pen pals from a care facility across the globe.

The initiative not only provides an enriching language learning experience but also creates an opportunity for residents to share stories, experiences, and foster lasting connections across borders.

Two residents of Renaissance Care’s Glencairn Care Home, Tom Caskie, 83, and Charles Menzies, 86, started German lessons three months ago, building on a lifelong love of languages.

Tom, 83, a retired civil engineer from Islay, first developed his love of languages after emigrating to Canada to pursue a career in civil engineering. He became fluent in French and picked up a good understanding of Italian and Spanish as he travelled the world, living in a variety of exotic locations, including East Pakistan, Tanzania and Nigeria.

Tom said: “I’ve always been fascinated by different languages and cultures. I chose to learn German this time around as this was completely new challenge to me. The lessons have been incredibly interesting, including German geography, culture and music throughout. I find the culture fascinating and listening to more German music in my free time.

“If I could give young people one piece of advice, it is to try and pick up a new language. It opens you up to a different world - there's a whole new treasure chest of music, films and books out there to enjoy.”

Joining Tom on his language learning mission is 86-year-old Charles Menzies. For Charles, the Lingo Flamingo sessions are a refresher on the German language, which he originally picked up while working in Germany as a teacher.

A true language aficionado, Charles is also fluent in French and Russian, along with having a strong understanding of Spanish and Polish.

Charles said: “The German lessons have made me feel nostalgic for my time in Germany as a young man. I loved living there and made so many happy memories. I very nearly never left!

“It’s great to be using the language again. I look forward to our weekly lessons. They get your brain engaged and challenge you to think outside the box. That’s important to staying sharp.

“My interest in languages has been a true asset throughout the years. I’ve been able to experience so much, like living in a foreign country independently, because of them. You never know where life is going to take you – a second language can open so many doors for you.”

Activities like Lingo Flamingo are central to Renaissance Care’s wellbeing strategy. Residents are encouraged and supported to take part in events that are tailored to their specific needs and interests, benefitting both their physical and mental health.

Jozi Stables, care home manager at Glencairn said: “Charlie and Tom are proof that it is never too late to learn a new skill.

“At Glencairn, we pride ourselves on catering to residents' actual interests and hobbies. It’s all about creating meaningful activities that residents can fully engage with and feel fulfilled by. We try and facilitate any activity that our residents would be interested with – even if that is creating new friends across borders. No ask is too big or small for us.”

Glencairn is a bespoke private residential home offering residents accommodation akin to that found in a small boutique-style hotel. It is located in the prestigious Grange area of Edinburgh and just a short walk to the popular Meadows.

Glencairn Care Home is part of the Renaissance Care Group, it currently operates 17 homes located across Scotland and currently provides care provision for 760 residents and employs around 1,150 staff.


Pen pal slots will be subject to availability across the 17 Renaissance Care owned homes. For more information, please contact [email protected].


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