13 Dec 19

The Willows Care Home support local people in need

For the last couple of weeks, team members, residents, relatives and friends of the Willows Care Home have been helping to support their local foodbank. This is a really important community asset that provides much-needed aid to those who struggle to afford food. It runs on donations though, so members of the surrounding community donate what they can to keep it running.

With the Christmas break approaching, residents at the care home realised there may be some larger families in the community that struggle a little more, so they set out to make a batch of Christmas hampers they could donate to the families.

With everyone helping out and donating items to the care home the pile began growing quickly. Further support came when The Willows hosted their Christmas Fete as family members and others in the community helped by donating food and presents on the day.

With everything collected, team members and residents at the care home began making the hampers. Using card and wrapping paper, they made some large festive boxes containing a variety of food, household items and Christmas presents.

The residents had a really good time pulling the hampers together and said ‘it’s always good to give a little if you can’. Knowing they will be helping families at Christmas has brought them all joy and kept them motivated to help with the scheme.

We look forward to delivering these hampers and bringing some Christmas joy to local people.

13 Dec 19

Prancer, Dancer, Comet and Blitzen visit Longfield Care Home

Christmas celebrations were in full at Longfield Care Home this week as a group of reindeer came to visit the residents.

Engaging residents with animal activities provides a boost in wellbeing and is proven to have a calming effect, so team members combined this with the Christmas theme for a unique animal experience.

To make the session inclusive for all, the reindeer were welcomed to the care home and a pen was set up in the garden, ready for the residents to meet them.

To start the activity, the group were given a short safety chat before being introduced to each of the reindeer. They had been named traditional reindeer names including, Prancer, Comet and Dancer. This was enjoyed by the group as it brought back childhood Christmas memories and reminded them of the song, ‘Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer’.

The residents were assisted as they got close to the reindeer to give them a stroke. Interesting facts about the animals were also shared during the session, which created conversation and fully engaged the group with the activity.

It was a very cold day when they came, so some of the residents were happy to watch from the window and avoid the winter’s chill.

After spending some time with the animals, residents headed back inside for a hot drink and a chat. When team members asked what they thought of the activity, they said it was a wonderful surprise and were glad they got to meet them.

Now the residents know the reindeer personally, we’re hoping they’ll return on Christmas Eve with some presents!

13 Dec 19

RAF officers join Etheldred veterans for a coffee morning at the care home

Wednesday 27th November was a very special day for the residents living at Etheldred House as Home Manager, Santall had arranged for members of a nearby RAF base to join them for a coffee morning.

This allowed residents to connect with others in the community and also bring two serving generations together, as Etheldred House is home to many male and female veterans.

A group of Junior Officers from 16 Squadron Royal Air Force (RAF) Wittering came along to meet the people of Etheldred house. The residents, especially the veterans among the group, were really excited to meet the team and eagerly awaited their arrival in the reception area. Hot Drinks and Cakes had been set-up by the kitchen team so everything was ready for their arrival.

When they came through the doors dressed in their uniforms, residents shook their hands and with a look of admiration, invited them to join them at the table for some cake and coffee. As the residents sat and chatted with the group, they took the opportunity to share war-time stories and ask the officers some questions.

Multi-talented Carer and singer, Ryan, offered to come by on his day off and sing songs from the 1940s in the background. Not only did this lift the energy, but also encouraged reminiscence, bringing back connected memories from their pasts.

One of the residents named Mac started to tell a story about his war-time experiences. Mac served as a Wireless Air Gunner Operator and remembers his plane being shot at on the way back from Germany once, causing him to eject and parachute out. Unfortunately, he was greeted by German soldiers when he landed and was taken as a prisoner for three years. The RAF members were shocked that the man in front of them had been through this terrible experience, but asked Mac what it was like. Despite recalling some tough memories from the past, Mac kept his sense of humour and replied, “Not very nice at all, you were always hungry and there were no girls.”

Ann is also a resident at the care who shared stories on the day. During the war, she said, the home guards would often use her family’s farm to train their horses. Ann was a keen pony rider at the time and said the visiting guards would often ask her to ride her pony out to see if she could spot any enemies, as she was a young girl and wouldn’t be suspected. Ann’s husband also served but in the Royal Marines, for which Ann received a Life Member award.

The group continued to go around the circle and share their experiences. It was great seeing everyone so engaged, listening and showing each other respect as they told their stories.

Toby, one of the junior officers, said that he is currently training to become a pilot and is really enjoying it. This is the first time he has come to one of these events, he said, but loved being able to talk to the residents about all of their experiences. Toby told us that they cannot train when the weather is bad, so they are able to spend rainy days attending community events like this.

At the end of the event, Santall thanked Matt and his junior officers for their “act of kindness” and presented the group with a large hamper of chocolates.

Louise, Regional Operations Director, said, “How amazing that Etheldred House has organised this. It’s lovely to see so many people involved and all the ladies swooning over the men in uniform. Well done to Etheldred House and to all the Veterans living there.”

It was certainly a very emotional yet fulfilling day at Etheldred House meeting members of the RAF. The residents had a great time sharing their stories and listening to the officers. We’d be more than happy to welcome you all back on any rainy days off in the future.

A special thanks to Matt and the RAF benevolent fund for making the day possible, we salute you!

12 Dec 19

‘Nationwide Knitters’ donate generously to Lime Court Care Home

Residents at Lime Court Care Home were delighted when they received a generous donation of knitted items from ‘Nationwide Knitters’ this week.

The group was set up by Laura from the local Nationwide branch, to help connect the community and find an important use for people’s hobby. The group has donated blankets to the homeless via the Salvation Army so there are already positive changes happening in the community. The group also knit items for residents living in care homes and small knitted toys for children.

This week, the residents of Lime Court Care Home received a special package from the club, containing a variety of coloured lap blankets and twiddle muffs. As the residents opened it up, they were pleasantly surprised with the amount the group had donated and all enjoyed looking through the different items together. With winter in full swing, the residents were especially pleased with the variety of twiddle muffs they had included. These items are very beneficial for people living with dementia, as they are visually engaging and feature different textures both inside and out that the residents can fiddle with. People who live with dementia like having something to keep their hands busy, so these items solve that problem whilst keeping them nice and warm.

Laura, who started the scheme said, “Our customers have been busy knitting.  We have made blankets for Colchester rough sleepers via Salvation Army, lap and twiddle muffs for local care homes and knitted toys for children’s hampers for North Essex Support Team.  Anyone can join our knitting and crochet projects whether they bank with us or not – keeping it local in the community”.

A huge thank you to Nationwide for delivering this important community scheme and everyone from the Nationwide Knitters. We really appreciate all of your hard work and the residents are really excited to use their new sensory items and blankets.

12 Dec 19

Buchan House residents tell team members they ‘Love to Move’

The seated-chair exercise scheme, Love to Move, is delivered in most Excelcare homes across the group. These classes provide a range of physical and cognitive benefits including muscle growth and a boost in confidence, aiding the resident’s independence levels around the care home.

The residents at Buchan House Care Home especially enjoy these classes because they are fun, fulfilling and keep them active.

Team members at the care home regularly host meetings with the residents so they can share feedback and any requests they have. In the latest meeting with the residents, they said that they would like to have more than one ‘Love to Move’ session per week. The team members were really pleased that they wanted to do more exercise and delighted to hear they had been enjoying the classes too. Debbie is a Lifestyle Coordinator at the care home and a trained Love to Move instructor, so she has pledged to host two sessions per week with those who want to do more.

After the session Debbie did some research and found that adults aged over 75 should be doing 30 minutes of exercise, five times a week, which the new schedule will help to achieve. To keep the enthusiasm for Love to Move, Debbie has invited the resident’s friends and family to take part so they can all exercise together!

We look forward to hosting the next session in the new year when our festive activities are finished. If you would like to come along to one of the Love to Move sessions at Buchan House Care Home, please get in touch with info@excelcareholdings.com

11 Dec 19

Elf antics and Christmas crafts at Okeley Care home

Residents and team members at Okeley Care Home had an exciting day on Friday while celebrating National Elf Day. People are encouraged to take part in the day by dressing like an elf, hosting festive activities and raising money for charity.

Some unwelcome elves were also celebrating the day by causing chaos at the care home. They spread themselves around and tried to pull down decorations, climb on the furniture and even recruited some residents to help make mischief.

After hearing about the mess they had been making, Home Manager, Shoenagh went to help team members collect the Elves and put a stop to their antics.

Meanwhile, some of the residents were taking part in festive craft activities with students from the National Citizen Service (NCS). Volunteers from the group have visited the care home before to help with events and fundraising activities at the home so the residents know them well and enjoy their company. Themed elf activities were also available to honour the day and the group had lots of fun laughing at the mischief in the background whilst they finished their crafts.

After an exciting but chaotic morning, Shoenagh came back to the lounge with all of the naughty elves under her arm and sat them calmy on her lap to keep an eye on them all.

Thank you to the NCS students for coming to visit the residents and dedicate your time to helping, they all had a really great time and we hope to see you again soon!

11 Dec 19

The Buchan House knitting club donate hand-made items to The Rosie Hospital

Over the duration of this year, a small team of committed women at Buchan House have been attending a weekly knitting group at the care home, making maternity blankets for a local hospital.

Each week, the knitting club gather at the care home to work on their next blanket and chat over a hot drink. The group really enjoy the sessions and can regularly be found sitting together outside the class to make more progress with their blankets.

The small club, made up of Maureen, Joan and Hazel, has already donated three sets of blankets to the Neonatal (newborn) Ward at locally based, Addenbrookes Hospital. Being a part of this group has brought them lots of joy as they get to practice a hobby with their friends whilst supporting an important community asset. Nurses and team members at the hospital have been very thankful to the group, which keeps them motivated to donate more.

This week, the group had a completed batch of blankets and traffic light hats to donate, so team members took the residents up to The Rosie Maternity Hospital. The nurses were once again thrilled that the team had dedicated their free time to supporting the maternity ward. They mentioned that blankets are important at this time of year as they help to keep the babies warm and feeling safe so their donations are always appreciated.

The residents loved visiting the hospital and seeing their hard work benefit a good cause. They have already started on the next batch but will be taking a break over Christmas to enjoy the festive activities that have been planned at the home.

Since visiting the hospital, the club has received a letter from the Lead Clinical Nurse, thanking them for all of their kind donations. This meant so much to the residents and they look forward to kick-starting the scheme again in the new year!

11 Dec 19

Amanda gets the garden at Glennfield ready for Christmas

The people at Glennfield Care Home have been working hard over the last couple of weeks to decorate the care home in time for Christmas. They have been busy making decorations to put up inside, but when gardener Amanda came by this week, she noticed that their outdoor space was in need of some festive love.

Luckily, Amanda knew a handy way of turning old wood into small snowmen statues. She mentioned that the activity involved using a chainsaw, so team members hosted a separate activity with the residents inside, while she worked with team members to make them.

Using old tree stumps, team members helped Amanda cut them into small discs that would be used to form the body. Four different size pieces were needed for each snowman – two for the body, one of the head and one for the hat, which was easier said than done. Working together though, they managed to cut all the pieces safely, before heading inside to assemble them and add the finishing touches.

The finished snowmen were then placed in the garden and when the residents saw them, they were overwhelmed with the results. Many of the residents love celebrating Christmas and this time of year brings back fond family memories from the past, so they really appreciate the small gestures that team members do to make the place feel homely.

Thanks to Amanda, the garden at Glennfield is looking just a festive as the inside and is definitely Christmas ready!

10 Dec 19

Dorothy’s Story: A life fulfilled

At Excelcare, we love celebrating the resident’s individual life achievements. Whether that’s reaching a particular birthday or achieving a personal goal, it’s important that these moments are celebrated and made special.

Lime Court Care Home recently celebrated an incredible milestone with Dorothy, a resident at the care home, who turned 108 years old on Saturday (7th December). To honour this lady’s inspiring life, we sat down with her to learn more about her past and interesting life events.

Dorothy was born in Ilford on December 7th, 1911.

During the first world war, she was evacuated to Canvey Island where she remembers travelling to school in a ‘Pony and trap’. Pictured below is Dorothy at the age of five with her mother, Alice and grandmother Annie.


Upon leaving school, Dorothy attended a secretarial school. She was a really hard worker and graduated in 1930 with certificates in Pitman Shorthand and could write 120 words per minute. This is something that is very hard to achieve and is one of her proudest moments in life.

Her first job was at a shoe company based in Finsbury Circus, which she enjoyed but realised it wasn’t something she wanted to do as a career. The picture below was taken during Dorothy’s employment while in her 20’s with her beloved pet cat.


During the second world war, Dorothy moved Essex and began working for the County Medical Officer at the county hall in Chelmsford. She worked there during the week and on weekends, would take the 11-mile bike-ride to Fambridge on the Crouch to look after her parents.

She did this routine every week until the end of the war in Septemeber 1945. With London declared safe again, Dorothy moved back to Ilford and began working as a Secretary in a bank. Despite her family moving to Dovercourt in 1947, Dorothy was happy with her job in Ilford and so decided to stay there. This was until her parents sadly passed away in 1972 when she joined the rest of her family in Dovercourt so they could all be together.

Dorothy lived and looked after her-self independently until she reached her 100th birthday, where she decided some company would be good and moved into Lime Court Care Home shortly after.

After a very active life, 108 year old Dorothy now opts for a slightly more relaxed approach and enjoys spending time catching up with family and friends. She also loves listening to music. Whether it’s Rock and Roll or swing, she can regularly be found singing along from somewhere. One song she can regularly be heard singing and her all-time favourite is, “I’m forever blowing bubbles.”

To wrap up, Dorothy said her secret to a long and happy life is,“Taking plenty of exercise, cycling and lots of fresh air”.

Thank you to Dorothy for sharing your unique life story with us and congratulations on reaching this epic milestone, you are officially the oldest member of the Excelcare family, ever!

Dorothy was recently featured in her local paper for her long-life achievement, click here to have a read!

10 Dec 19

Pesky elves participate in music therapy at Buchan House

Katherine hosts regular music therapy sessions at Buchan House, where residents learn and play along to popular songs using percussion instruments. The sessions help to improve physical and cognitive functions, whilst engaging the residents with something they all enjoy – music.

This week, residents gathered in the lounge for another musical session but with some unwelcome visitors. Some naughty elves have been causing chaos at the care home recently, playing pranks and making a mess. Although the residents find all their handy work entertaining, team members don’t welcome it so much as they have to clear it up.

In the hour-long session, Katherine handed out a variety of percussion instruments which included tambourines, drums, shakers and guitars. As well as giving residents the freedom to play as they wish, Katherine also sings some familiar songs from the past to encourage reminiscence and bring back fond memories. New songs are also introduced throughout the class so they can practice and experiment with rhythm.

Everything was going well until some elves that snuck into the session began making a racket with some of the instruments they had stolen. It certainly got the residents attention and they joined team members in helping to shoo them away.

With the class back on track, group members began swapping instruments so they could try them out. Each instrument requires a different action to make the sound, so while experimenting, residents were also benefitting from the light movements involved.

This is a really enjoyable session for the residents as it provides them with creative freedom and choice. It’s always full of energy and there is a noticeable boost in mood after Katherine has visited.

Thanks for another fun and fulfilling session, Katherine, see you again soon!