Christmas is a special time of year, whether you are in your own home or with relatives. In Care UK’s 114 homes across the country, its dedicated teams work hard to ensure residents and their relatives enjoy the run-up to Christmas, as well as the big day itself.
Christmas, and the traditions around it, give residents lots of opportunities to reminisce. Carrying on much-loved traditions helps residents to feel happy and relaxed. It allows them to continue their own special Christmas traditions with their relatives who visit throughout the holidays.
At Abney Court, in Cheadle, residents and the team were busy throughout December hosting a Christmas fair for the community and joining in carols with the Year 6 children from Stella Maris Primary School, where they spent time singing carols and chatting to residents about Christmases past and present.
At Davers Court, in Bury St. Edmunds, the local community joined in the festive cheer at the home’s Christmas fete. As well as craft stalls and a Christmas cake sale, visitors joined in a singalong of the residents’ best loved carols around the tree.
Home manager Wendy Harvey said: “Our Christmas fete was a great opportunity to reflect and celebrate with friends, family and residents here at the home. It is important to us to forge relationships with the local community and we all had a lovely time sharing the festive feeling with our guests on the day.”
In Eye, residents at Hartismere Place, as well as having their own fete, decided to go out for a spot of Christmas shopping and look at the decorations in a local garden centre where, in addition to finding some natty elf hats with pointy ears included, they also met a giant inflatable snowman and told Father Christmas what they wanted this year.
At Appleby House, in Epsom, the doors were opened to local people for a festive celebration and for the official turning on of the home’s lights by Santa Claus and the aptly named Mayor of Epsom and Ewell, Councillor Liz Frost.
Everyone joined in the carol singing, led by the Appleby Choir, and visitors enjoyed a selection of festive treats, including mince pies and mulled wine. Santa was ably assisted by several elves as he chatted to the residents and their visitors.
Home manager Shona Bradbury said: “We were delighted to welcome the local community to celebrate Christmas here at Appleby House to help spread the festive feeling with our lights switch-on. Everyone had a fantastic evening and it was great to see so many of the residents and guests singing along to the carols. We would like to thank the Mayor, Liz Frost, for joining in with the festive celebrations.”
There was a mayoral visit too for the residents of Skylark House, in Horsham, as the team threw a festive celebration. Mayor of Crawley, Councillor Brian Quinn, joined the festivities along with musical group Troubadour Productions, for a selection of festive treats, and the revellers danced the night away to their favourite Christmas songs.
Home manager Dev Lallchand said: “Christmas is a magical time of year and here at Skylark House we like to get into the festive spirit by kicking off celebrations with plenty of fun. Everyone had a fantastic evening, and it was great to see so many of the residents enjoying Troubadour Productions’ performance.”
There was singing too at The Potteries, in Poole, where residents welcomed members of Wimborne Theatre Choir to the home for a festive sing-along. Everyone gathered together to hear the special performance of traditional carols and residents sang along to their favourite Christmas songs. After the sing-along, members of the choir joined residents for a Christmas party where they enjoyed plenty of tasty festive treats and mulled wine.
Home manager Zita Turner said: “We were delighted to be joined by the choir for our Christmas carols. We hope to make all residents feel at home with plenty of traditional festivities planned throughout December and being joined by the choir was a great way to kick off the Christmas celebrations here at the home.
“When it comes to evoking memories and raising cheer the power of music is incredibly strong. And what better way to get into the Christmas spirit than with carol singing. Many people living with dementia can recall favourite tunes from years ago and it was lovely to see the residents getting involved and singing along to some of their favourite festive songs.”
We know that many residents enjoy cooking, so the smells of Christmas filled many homes as they took up the challenge of this year’s Care UK Christmas Cake Competition. The residents of Church View, in Seaham, were lucky to have their very own secret recipe from resident baker Ron, who once owned his own bakery. But top place was taken by the residents of Whitefarm Lodge in Twickenham.
Care UK’s food and services director, Jon Bicknell, was one of the judges. He said: “The winning cake had festive flair with a gingerbread Whitefarm Lodge, with residents looking out of the window at a Santa based on home manager Shane Cosgrove. Their Christmas cake story was full of festive cheer and involved everyone in the home taking a stir and making a wish, which we felt made it extra special.”
Christmas would not be Christmas without a pantomime, (oh, yes it would!) and for the residents of Foxbridge House in Orpington that meant a trip to Bromley’s Churchill Theatre. Jesse Wallace, the ever-popular Kat Slater from EastEnders, and magician and comedian Pete Firman performed in Snow White. Residents and the team were delighted when Pete tweeted later in the day hoping they had had fun.
As well as enjoying the performance, the residents also enjoyed their intermission ice-creams. And those who could not make it to theatre were not left out as the Rah Rah Theatre Company put on a panto in the home. Residents and team members had a wonderful time – not just watching but joining in, on stage, with the high energy performance.
Geoff Edwards, Care UK’s operations director said: “Christmas has been a special time for residents throughout their lives and I am proud of all the energy and enthusiasm my colleagues put into making it equally special in our homes. I’d like to say a big thank you for all their hard work. Seeing the smiles on the faces of residents and their relatives really does make it the most wonderful time of the year.”