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Video calls, Vegas themed nights and working with theatres

Friday 24th April 2020

Video calls, Vegas themed nights and working with theatres

How care homes are going the extra mile for residents during COVID-19

Coronavirus has brought a whole host of new challenges, but perhaps most of all, it’s prevented us from seeing those from outside our households who mean the most to us. And while this new form of normality has been difficult for everyone, it can be even more challenging for residents in care homes, their family and friends.

Within health and social care we’ve seen the extraordinary lengths our special people go to, in order to ensure the best possible care is delivered to those who need it most. As well as that, we’ve also seen overwhelming support from local communities to make sure no one feels isolated or alone at this tricky time.

We recently asked Capacity Tracker users for the most innovative ways they’re keeping their residents active, happy and in good spirits during the pandemic. We received some amazing replies from care homes nationwide; from Northumberland and Durham to Chichester and Essex! Read more about the initiatives and get inspired below.

A very special birthday

Summerhill Care Home in Alnwick has been busy celebrating a very special birthday for 102 year-old, Joan! Care home manager, Nicola Undeldorf arranged in-house celebrations, including a party, gifts and cake to make her big day as special as possible. There was even a FaceTime visit from her family who joined in with the celebrations and a birthdsay sing-along. Nicola also helped to reach out to the local community, with cards, letters and drawings from children and complete strangers flooding in to give Joan a memorable birthday.

Video calls and living with dementia

Also utilising online technology and video calls is Newgrange Residential Care Home in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, with Skype sessions during the morning and afternoon. It’s a confusing and tough time for us all, but it can be especially difficult for many residents to understand the situation and the position of not seeing their close family as they usually would. As a result, Newgrange have carer support on-hand to help when emotional support is needed. The home have also set up a screen in the residents’ lounge, so families can dial in at any time to connect with their loved ones and see what’s happening.

Another difficult aspect of COVID-19, is the impact on those living with dementia. At Durham Care Home, staff are supporting residents to write a weekly letter and make cards for their relatives.

FaceTime slots have also been allocated throughout the day, giving a boost to residents that are able to chat, send love and spend personal, face to face time — sometimes it’s the little things that are the most treasured for relatives at this difficult time.

Working with theatre

In Loughton, Essex, Woodland Grove Care Home has teamed up with Unique Community and Brent Youth Theatre to take part in a letter writing project, called Homes of Hope. The project aims to keep residents stimulated and connected with the outside world during the pandemic. Residents and young people have been exchanging letters on a weekly basis based on different themes, which are digitally accessible to everyone. Eventually, the goal of the project is for Brent Youth Theatre to visit Woodland Grove, meet the residents and perform a short play based on the letters they have received.

Discos, Las Vegas and a McDonalds drive thru

Residents at Lakeview Manor Care Home in Hull have been getting their dancing shoes on with a virtual disco every Wednesday. A member of staff also comes in during her own time to ensure all residents have their hair and nails done for the big night. As well as that, they’re currently busy designing and making props for a Las Vegas night, with both residents and staff encouraged to wear their finest clothes and join in some Vegas themed fun.

Elsewhere, some of their younger residents have been missing everyone’s favourite treat — McDonalds! So much so, they’ve designed their very own drive thru. The home has also enabled FaceTime, along with individual messages from their Facebook page helping residents and families to send love and stay connected.

Room roulette, green fingers and Easter activities

Tenchley Manor Nursing Home in Chichester has been busy keeping residents active and occupied with the help of the local community. Room Roulette sees locals pick a room number and connect with residents by sending a card, picture, letter or postcard. The idea was advertised on Facebook, with an overwhelming response of handmade gifts, well wishes and messages of support.

Residents have also being busy getting green fingers by planting, watering and look after vegetables including cabbages, sweet peas, sprouts and cauliflower. Elsewhere in the garden, a Good Friday picnic was held in the sunshine with music, fruit punch, snacks, fish and chips, and a dessert. The picnic was part of a whole host of Easter activities, which included bonnet art classes, bunny bowls, an egg hunt and quiz.

For residents looking to get creative, local artist Chris Fisher gave the home some of his digital art to colour in with felts and pastels. Meanwhile, children from a local primary school sent pictures and drawings for residents to put up in their windows. The home has also held a number of other activities, including a cinema club, bird watching, play your cards right and word games.

Penpals and letters from Europe

In York, letters have poured into Fulford Nursing Home, with the local community and those further afield coming together to write letters to isolated residents. Just days after care home manager, Lizzie Hancock posted a simple message to local Facebook groups, the home received letters from local schools, nurseries and businesses, as well as cakes, gifts and emails from across the world.

Easter eggs and other treats also dropped on the doorstep, with hand-written post arriving from places as far-flung as France and the Netherlands. Some residents have now even struck up regular penpals and friendships with people who were merely strangers just a couple of weeks ago.

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.