Christmas In a Care Home

21/12/2015 20:52 GMT | Updated 21/12/2016 10:12 GMT

What comes to mind when you think about Christmas in a care home? Is it tired tinsel and miserable colleagues or is it Bucks Fizz and a gospel choir? Quite different images, but while the first may chime with many preconceptions, the second is a glimpse into the world of modern care homes. I've been hearing from our care homes all over the country about what they have planned for the festive period and have included a few typical examples to share with you.

One of the main themes that I have heard time and time again is the importance of each resident experiencing the Christmas that they want, whether it's a morning tipple in bed or an afternoon of old Christmas films. I have worked in the sector for a number of years and am still struck by the variety of days that make up a care home Christmas.

Adele Hawkins, who works at Clayburn Court in Peterborough, has had a huge timetable of events throughout December from card and wreath making, wrapping gifts, watching festive films and baking mince pies. The residents will awake on Christmas morning with a glass of Bucks Fizz, with the festivities beginning in earnest as presents are shared amongst colleagues and residents, and families arrive at the home to visit their loved ones.

The Christmas festivities are not unique to Clayburn Court. Michele Alderson at Cranlea in Newcastle has some extra special gifts prepared for her older residents this year. The presents have been tailored to each individual, such as one dapper gentleman who will be receiving a new checkered handkerchief. Cranlea has focused their festive activities on the theme of music, bringing together the residents, colleagues and local community. So far they have seen a gospel choir, a local choral group and church carols and they are looking forward to a sing-along on Christmas Day.

Manager June Oakes is also gearing up for the Christmas Day activities at Orchard Court in Surrey. After opening presents from Orchard Court colleagues at breakfast, the residents will be looking forward to toasting the Queen's speech, with the well-stocked drinks trolley and a mince pie. Each resident is looking for something different from the day so June has arranged Christmas lunch for some to eat communally with colleagues and family, or for lunch to come to them if they need rest and quiet.

There is another side of Christmas which can make it a difficult time of year for older people. The first Christmas no longer living in the family home or without a loved one can be really tough. Our teams working on Christmas Day are sensitive to each individual's needs over Christmas and know that people may need a to talk about those no longer with us and join in with activities on their own terms.

Understanding the balance between inclusion and support sets apart a team who truly care about residents and those going through the motions of a job.

There are many colleagues going above and beyond over Christmas because they are motivated and inspired by the job, and we think they deserve to be recognised for this. That's why we have already been paying Anchor's carers the living wage for almost two years. Investing in colleagues through good pay and training opportunities is a must for any care and housing organisation keen to provide high quality services.

I want to say thank you to the great people giving up their Christmas to ensure others have a special day. The difference that you make is incredible and however small your involvement, it means the world to older people.