Having a loved one spend Christmas in a care home can be a distressing prospect, particularly if the arrangement and decision to move them into a nursing home has been a recent one. Often this decision is taken at a crisis point. The individual in question may no longer be well enough to look after themselves without support. Or families who have been supporting a loved one may no longer be able to cope because of the progression of a disease.
At our care home Worcester, whatever the time of year, we always aim to make our residents feel that Stanfield is as close to their normal home life as possible. Christmas time brings its own challenges. It can be a very isolating and stressful time for care home residents. Residents still want to send cards and give gifts yet the practicalities of buying and distributing them may cause anxiety. Families of residents may choose to travel away to mark the festivities and visits to their loved one may be less frequent as a result.
At Stanfield, we consider ourselves a surrogate family. Which is why Christmas is a vital date in our care home calendar. We prepare for Christmas in a care home in much the same way one would in a traditional family setting, so we help to make it a positive and uplifting time of year.
Here are five ways we’ll be helping to keep our residents merry this Christmas:
1. Knowing our residents
Following a person-centred care approach means the staff at our care home in Worcester really get to know our residents. Knowing personalities and histories of our residents and their families means we are familiar with their lives, their loves and their dislikes.
Our staff will know what Christmas was like for someone prior to being in care. Having such knowledge means we are best placed to meet the individual needs of our residents spending Christmas in a care home. We can help to add the little touches that are familiar and make a person feel at home.
Equally, we will be alert to the fact that residents may not have family near by to provide companionship or that they may be experiencing sadness and loss, perhaps grieving for a loved one. We can help to ease the pain of separation and loneliness and encourage festive excitement. Such knowledge is the foundation for excellent care, whether it’s Christmas or not.
The Christmas period is a nostalgic one. Traditions reoccur which means the benefits of reminiscence therapy, which particularly helps with improving cognitive function and better mood for our residents suffering from dementia, can be harnessed. We help residents to savour and share happy memories in the lead up to Christmas and on the day.
Of course, we are mindful to note that Christmas may also be a time which stirs unhappy memories. To ensure we don’t add to any distress, we support our residents in a way that is appropriate and personalised for them.
Just some of the things we’ve been doing includes making traditional Christmas decorations, having our residents help to prepare the Christmas cake and assisting our residents to write cards and send them to friends and family.
3. Maintaining links to the community
To make their Christmas in a care home as special as possible, we support our residents in maintaining links to their local community. If residents have particular personal traditions at this time of year, for example attending their local church service, then we will always do what we can to help them continue to carry those out. We have to take into account their personal capabilities but we endeavor to make it happen.
Stimulating and fun activities help Christmas in a care home to be a joyful and entertaining time. We’ve got a vast array of things planned from a pantomime performance, to crafting, to carol singing and much much more.
Our nursing home staff really throw themselves into the spirit of Christmas. They want to make this time of year special and a positive one.
5. Open doors
At our nursing home, our doors are always open so that the friends and family of our residents can come and spend time together. On Christmas Day, families will be joining us to celebrate with their loved ones but we also especially encourage them to come and join in with any of the activities in the lead up to the day too.
We will do our utmost to make our residents’ Christmas in a care home as homely as possible. But nothing makes it more so than to have members of their family, here, sharing in the festivities with them. You’re all invited!
The mark of a successful Christmas in a care home for myself and the team at Stanfield Nursing Home is one that replicates a happy family Christmas, where our residents, staff and their family and friends sit and celebrate together. Because we know our residents, we know how we can go about achieving this so they can all enjoy this time of year.
If you are considering nursing home care for yourself or a loved one and would like to find out more about our beautiful Worcestershire care home, you are very welcome to speak to us on 01905 420459. You are also very welcome to come and look around the home and gardens.
You may also like to read our previous blog post, Branching Out Communication: How Our Worcester Care Home with Nursing Uses A Tree To Help Residents Remember.