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How care homes are keeping their residents active, happy and in good spirits during COVID-19

Wednesday 6th May 2020

How care homes are  keeping their residents active, happy and in good spirits during COVID-19

After our first blog post last week, we’ve been inundated with more innovative ideas and great ways care homes are going the extra mile for residents during COVID-19. And while the pandemic has brought a new normality that’s been difficult for us all, it’s been even more challenging for care homes, their residents and their family and friends.

Get inspired with our latest round-up of ways care homes across the country are keeping their residents active, happy and in good spirits.

Video calls and adopting a grandparent

At Heatherwood Health Centre in Surrey, residents have been busy video calling family and friends through WhatsApp. Recently purchased iPads and tablets are left on charge in the main lounge, meaning calls can be taken at any time of the day. This allows residents to see and speak to their loved ones just as they would when visiting.

They’ve received letters from the community and a local school, with residents writing back and forming relationships. The home is also set to join the Adopt a Grandparent scheme, which sees residents paired with a volunteer based on common interests and their background. Letters and photos will be exchanged, and ultimately pairings will be able to communicate face to face through video calls.

Heatherwood are communicating with families on a daily basis by sending pictures from activities and providing health updates via email and phone. This has a positive impact on the wellbeing of residents’ relatives and friends, who may be feeling particularly concerned or worried at the present time.

Video calls are also being utilised at Newgrange Residential Care Home in Cheshunt, this time via Skype. A dementia interactive touch table is also available, allowing families to dial in anytime of the day and see what’s happening in the residents’ lounge; from there they can then be connected with those who mean the most.

The calls are restricted to specific times of the day so carers can be on hand to offer emotional support for residents. Given the circumstances, it can be common that these conversations are difficult; just as understanding the wider situation is for residents.

Giving residents more control over services

For many care homes, the challenges have not just been clinically but also from a service and support angle. At Woodleigh House in the Rossendale Valley, their services promote and rely on community activities, as well as education and learning sessions. As a result, COVID-19 has required an all new approach that follows the new restrictions and guidelines while providing the same level of care.

Residents have been given more control and choice over the type of services. This has resulted in new skills and methods of support being delivered, including FaceTime and Skype calls, Facebook use and letter writing; all of which have allowed residents to communicate in new ways. Treasure hunts have been held within the home and its grounds, providing some friendly competition and excitement at a difficult time.

They’ve also introduced an online shopping task to help boost budgeting and saving skills. The TUC & TAC shop was set up with a budget of £100, with residents buying something from the shop every Friday. Over the weekend the shop is then restocked, with staff and residents helping to choose items to buy that fellow residents might like. Residents have been humble and thoughtful by thinking of what others will want not just themselves. The shop also provides a small profit, with the kitty set to be spent on a post-lockdown party!

Pictures, postcards and a quote a day

In London, the Pilgrims’ Friend Society is another organisation to have set up weekly Zoom calls and FaceTime sessions. Residents have been busy creating coloured rainbows for staff to put up in their homes, while the home has received pictures and postcards from local children community groups including the scouts and schools.

The community has also generously donated various gifts such as hampers of hand creams, oils, shower gel and bags for carers to take their uniform home to wash. Biscuits, cakes and chocolates have been aplenty too, both from the kindness of the community and staff! The team have dotted inspirational quotes around the home, along with a message of the day to help residents, staff and the community pull through.

Finding new talents

At Penhill Residential Home in Bristol, it’s been about tightening the belts, pulling through and “getting on with it”. The home has seen families wave through the window to residents, as well as the use of video calls to contact those who’d usually be visiting. Bundles of letters and well wishes have also dropped through the letterbox, with the community rallying around to keep spirits high. A decorative wall has been set up to display all the letters and notes, with residents looking forward to the daily delivery of post!

There’s also been a whole host of activities for residents including flower arranging, knit and natter, gardening, baking, sings songs, storytelling and quizzes. Staff are taking entertainment to a whole new level and finding talents they never knew existed! From laundry lady Jill doubling up as a hairdresser to expertly painted nails by Lou Lou, staff are helping make sure residents look their best despite the situation. Important dates are still being celebrated too, with events for St David’s Day, St Patrick’s Day and those all-important birthdays. For Easter, residents also baked their very own Simnel cake.

Elsewhere, Orchard House Care Home in Scarborough invited family, friends and local schoolchildren to send in a wave which have been displayed on their ‘Wave Wall’.

Selfie-frames and staff challenges

At Guild Care in Worthing, residents have enjoyed taking photos in their selfie-frames! Staff have joined forces for their Do, Donate or Share 2.6 Challenge; with donations going towards funding bespoke health and wellbeing counselling for staff post COVID-19. Staff have also recently got together and filmed themselves singing Happy 100th birthday to Captain Tom Moore!

Drive-by waves

Marwood Residential Home in Loughborough have come up with an innovative way for residents to see their loved ones with a family drive-by! The idea sees families co-ordinate their essential trips out with a drive-by of the home. Staff and residents gathered on the pavement at the front of the building with music, banners and napkins to wave, all whilst maintaining social distancing.

Families, friends and the general public waved and beeped their horns in support, helping to create a buzz among everyone in the home that’s been hugely uplifting! They’ve also received well wishes and messages of support on Facebook.


Clap for carers and providing the same quality of care

At Perry Tree Centre in Birmingham, letters, emails, thank you cards and video calls have all helped lift spirits of both staff and residents. The weekly clap for carers has provided memorable and poignant moments, with people standing across the road to clap and thank staff for all their efforts.

The centre is also continuing to provide the same quality of care for residents while maintaining social distancing guidelines and government advice. This includes carrying on providing meaningful therapeutic activities as well as daily exercise.

Share your ideas

A massive thank you to all those inspiring carers, NHS workers and local communities who are going above and beyond to make sure no one feels isolated or alone at this tough time.

If you’d like to share your innovative ideas about how you’re meeting the challenges associated with COVID-19, please email . We’ll be able to share them in future bulletins, as well as through Facebook and Twitter so other care homes can adopt ideas and ensure their residents remain active, happy and in good spirits.