Christmas is the time of year that makes us feel thankful for our family and friends. No doubt this year is going to feel a little different, but what can we do to lift the Christmas spirit during these uncertain times? See some of our simple suggestions for continuing Christmas traditions, with a few tweaks…
At the time of writing, we still do not know what Christmas holds for us in 2020. It’s been a challenging year and this season will no doubt put a strain on all of us in different ways. But practising gratitude and giving can often remind us of the true meaning of Christmas. Here are some of our favourite ways to give back this season.
Most care homes will write a card to each resident. They may also have a few that they have received from family and friends. This year, perhaps every department in the home or every staff member could send cards to the residents, and their rooms will be full of Christmas greetings. Help residents with making cards to hand out to family and with writing the messages. Knowing that their loved ones are being thought of will bring gladness to their hearts. You can also arrange for residents to send cards to staff members. “It is nice to give and to receive. Let us go bigger than we ever have before!” says activity coordinator Robyn Taylor.
Last year, you may have arranged shopping trips for the residents to get gifts for their loved ones, and you may have even invited the Avon lady to come and display some of her products. This year, of course, we are unable to do this. Instead, organise lots of catalogues to be delivered to the home so residents can shop remotely. If the residents only have cash to spend, speak with the businesses and see what they can do to cater for the needs of your home, especially if they are local. Could you do a joint order for many of the residents, collecting their money in cash and then paying digitally? You may even want to teach them how to do internet shopping – it could be a fun activity that many of them will find entirely fascinating. “Don’t think ‘we can’t do this’, instead, think how CAN we make this happen?” says Robyn.
Everyone has their own traditions, both as a culture or as a family. Make an effort this year to find out what each resident’s traditions are and try to continue them in the home. Did Derek use to dress up as Santa every Christmas Eve? Schedule that into your plans. Did Betty hang the stockings on the fireplace? Ensure this is her task this season. Did Cliff go Christmas carolling on the 22nd December every year? Host a carol service in the home on this day. These small things will bring a sense of warmth in each person’s heart, knowing you have gone over and above to make it happen. And don’t forget to make your own traditions as a care home. Gather everyone together and have a group photo, then print copies off and give to everyone in their rooms so they can look at it and know they are not alone.
Collect food from the kitchen and donate to your local food bank – get your residents to help you sort through the larder. Go through the activity cupboard and regift unwanted items to those who do not have money to buy their children new presents. Many residents will relish having a clear-out, knowing that they are helping people in need.
Music always lifts our spirits. This year, we will be missing the concerts from local primary schools. But perhaps your local school or choir could record a performance and send it to you to watch together on the big screen. On the other hand, you may wish to do your own concert, film it and send it to loved ones and local schools.
THAT EXTRA MILE
This is a lot to ask, and not everyone can, but if residents are unable to have visitors, perhaps you could pop in on your day off for an hour to have a cup of tea and a chat with some of them? Or at the end of your shift, change your clothes and pop in to see someone who is a bit isolated for a chat. When you are out of uniform, company feels less forced.
Most homes will be full of activities going on throughout the month, with lots to keep residents entertained. However, the loss of not having constant visitors will be a struggle. “It is going to be hard, and you may feel sad for the residents,” says Robyn. “But as you did in the last lockdown, remember that humanity prevails and you will get through this as a team. Continue to be kind-hearted, listen, continue to stay strong, offer support where needed and as a care home, be a family together!”