The Love of Friendship

Robyn Taylor, one of our regular activity coordinator columnists, says Valentine’s Day is traditionally about expressing your feelings to someone you love, but you can adapt the event in your care home to celebrate the love of friendship too…

When I speak to the older generation, they say they never really celebrated Valentine’s Day. However, in care homes, I like to celebrate this occasion as it’s a good theme to base activities on throughout February, especially when you interpret the sharing of love as a more inclusive activity.

You must be careful not to go too overboard – Valentine’s Day can be painful for some, and may bring back the grieving process of the loss of a life partner. Try instead to focus on the fact that Valentine’s is also about expressing feelings to someone you love, and you can adapt the event in your care home to celebrate the love of friendship.

Fast Friendships: A twist on speed dating – gather the residents together, two per table, to socialise. After five minutes ring the bell and then they move and socialise with the next table. Use the Daily Sparkle to prompt conversation, or make your own topic cards. This activity may be the beginning of some blossoming friendships!

Married Couples: Organise a special meal for any married couples in your home. Can the chef prepare their favourite dishes? Decorate the dining area like an elegant restaurant. It can be hard when your husband/wife is in care, so any opportunity for a sense of normality in their lives will be appreciated.

Different Connections: You could also choose to celebrate other loves – such as parenthood, and invite in children, siblings, friendships or even the staff. Maybe a key staff member could have a meal with a resident who they have a special bond with.

Themed Events: Other activities could include romantic movie nights, poetry readings, dances or quiz nights. Just adapt your regular activities into something magical and warm.

Little Extras: On the run-up to 14th February, you can make decorations for the home (always save and re-use in years to come), but don’t go overboard. Maybe decorate one lounge, so residents dont have the reminder everywhere, and can get away if needed. This commercial holiday will be all over the papers and television, so decorating every communal room may be a little insensitive to some. Then again, some residents may thrive in the excitement and want their bedroom decorating. You will know your residents and what they look forward to.

Reminiscence Session: Many of the elderly generations want to enjoy and embrace this time with the memories they have. Allow those residents to bring photographs to a reminiscence session. “Better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.” You could make this light-hearted if you’re worried about the residents’ emotions, by asking questions such as: What’s the most embarrassing thing your husband has done? What things did you have to nag about? Give me some advice on how to keep a wife happy?

Sending Cards And Flowers: You could send cards to the residents, but think carefully about what message you are writing inside. A selection of colourful flowers tied in a ribbon always goes down a treat (rather than a typical red rose).

And Finally: Why not hold a charity event for the British Heart Foundation – those who do not want to think of themselves at this moment in time can work together to help others?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Robyn Taylor has worked as an activity coordinator in Lincolnshire for the last nine years. She recently won the East Midlands Putting People First Award for the care home she works in. She has always been passionate about enabling residents to continue with the things they love the most, and working with relatives and the community to ensure new and exciting opportunities are available.