17 Jan 20

Residents dabble in dumpling making at Aliwal Manor

The team at Aliwal Manor Care Home hosted a dumpling making activity this week. The request came from a resident who said they would like dumpling and stew for dinner one evening. Many of the residents used make dumplings regularly in the past, so team members invited them to get involved and make their own!

The kitchen team were on hand to help and got the ingredients ready for the residents. Angel from Nova Training College joined to help out on the day, whilst getting valuable experience for her Health and Social Care course. Angel hasn’t made dumplings before so this was new to her, but the residents know the technique well and took pride in showing her how it’s done.

As the residents began making their dumplings, you could tell they knew what they were doing and showed confidence in weighing them out, mixing and rolling them into shape. While doing this, the group spoke about the traditional and manual techniques they used to use, compared to the modern machinery that’s available today.

After rolling out the dumplings into evenly sized balls, team members took them to the kitchen to be added to the stew.

Everyone really enjoyed getting their hands dirty and using cooking skills from their past. This activity also brought back memories for some people, which they enjoyed sharing with the rest of the group.

As the evening approached, residents were sitting tight, ready to taste the stew. It certainly didn’t disappoint and everyone commented on how nice the dumplings both looked and tasted.

Team members are planning to make a book using the recipes that residents follow in these sessions, so others can try them out too!

17 Jan 20

Penpal scheme connects Cambridge-based residents, Tom and Taffy

Across the Excelcare group, team members based at the care homes look for ways to link in with other homes in the group, so residents can meet with like-minded people and develop friendships with them. Staff also encourage residents to stay in touch with friends from other care homes, as it helps to combat feelings of loneliness and for the simple reason that everyone needs friends!

Two residents that have formed a strong friendship are Taffy from St Georges Court and Tom from Aliwal Manor. Both of these men used to be binmen, so they had plenty in common and lots of stories to share. This week, the pair received and sent their first letters to each other. Both Tom and Taffy wanted to do it ‘the old fashioned way’ by sending letters in the post, making it more personal and meaningful for them.

In their first set of letters, they connected over shared experiences from their time as binmen. Taffy said he would regularly go to back-gardens to collect bins and would find women sunbathing – it was funny as Tom had very similar stories from his time in the job.

The pair also share a love for dogs which featured in their letters. They told stories about dogs they have owned and the competitions they entered. In Tom’s letter to Taffy, he included a picture of one of his favourite dogs, ‘Lassie’, which Taffy has hung on his bedroom wall.

Both men spoke about the people close to them in their letters too. Tom said he loves it when his son visits to take him into town, something that Taffy is, unfortunately, unable to do. However, if he could go out, Taffy said he’d love to visit a local boot fair. In his younger years, he would go to boot fairs and look for old watches to repair. While talking, he proudly showed off the watch he was wearing and said, “I bought and mended this watch all those years ago and it’s still working to this day.”

As well as sharing their interests and stories, both Taffy and Tom used their letters to find out more about each other. Tom asked Taffy whether he had a sweet tooth, to which Taffy said he has a passion for chocolate and recently won a big bar at the St Georges Christmas party.

The pair also discussed their shared love for singing and agreed the choir that recently visited both homes were very talented.

Taffy and Tom both really enjoying being pen pals and always look forward to the next letter arriving. It’s provided a noticeable boost to their wellbeing and as you can see, they make each other smile!

16 Jan 20

Question Time at Primrose Croft sparks conversation about the world

The people living at Primrose Croft Care Home in Cambridge enjoy a good chat with their friends. Whether it’s to work out problems, learn new things or find out more about people’s views, it’s good to spend time in each other’s company. Team members at the care home encourage the residents to take part in social events as it decreases the chance of loneliness, provides a boost in wellbeing and lifts the mood around the home.

This week, residents had a discussion about an interesting book called, “100 most dangerous things on earth”. The book includes colourful pictures of natural wonders from around the world, which the residents love looking and learning about.

The first topic they discussed was all about volcanic eruptions and the problems that the Taal Volcano is causing for people in the Philippines. It was impressive to see them linking things they had seen in the news with the conversation they were having. The group said they’re lucky not to have active volcanos in the UK, as they cause lots of personal and environmental devastation.

Lifestyle and Wellbeing Lead Pearl, then told the group about the time she climbed Mount Vesuvius with her parents in Italy and how she brought back a small rock with her to preserve the memory. Pearl then shared some facts about the volcano and why it’s so well known.

Vesuvius is the only active volcano in mainland Europe and is considered to be one of the deadliest due to the number of people living nearby. It’s historically known for wiping out the town of Pompeii when it erupted in 79 AD.  Although Mount Vesuvius hasn’t erupted since 1944, it still represents a great risk to the locals.

After listening to Pearl’s story, the residents moved on to their next topic – Boa Constrictors. They found it interesting to read about how they constrict prey and enjoyed questioning their friends about what they would do! They decided that staying calm, holding your breath and getting control of the snakes head would be the best approach, but hopefully something they’ll never have to practice.

Again, the residents said they’re lucky not to have these snakes here in the UK, but enjoy looking at them through screens at the Zoo. One of the residents remembered a news story about a family in Cambridge who lost their 9-foot Python, but no-one was hurt and it was found some days later hiding in a tree.

The residents really enjoyed learning more about the wonders in nature. As the session was so successful, it will continue until the residents know all about the other 98 most dangerous things in the world!


16 Jan 20

Friends and Family toast to Mary’s 100th at Lime Court Care Home

Mary is a resident at Lime Court Care Home, who recently celebrated her 100th birthday! To mark this memorable occasion, team members organised a party at the care home and invited her family members along.

One of the lounges had been decorated with birthday-themed banners, balloons and bunting, which was a welcome surprise for Mary when she arrived. Residents and team members were waiting and all wished her a happy birthday, before handing her gifts, cards and special birthday messages. There was one card that Mary was especially excited to open, marked with a royal telegram. It was a card from her Majesty the Queen, congratulating Mary on her lifetime achievement and wishing her the best birthday. It was a really touching moment and one that Mary was proud she could share with her friends and family at Lime Court.

In the afternoon, Mary’s family brought out a beautifully decorated 100th birthday cake, which was enjoyed over a glass of champagne and a toast to her 100 amazing years. The afternoon was spent sharing stories and chatting with the people who mean most to her, just how she wanted to spend the day.

Before her family left in the evening, Mary’s daughter Georgie handed team members a story about her mother’s life, so everyone could learn a bit more about her and really celebrate her achievements.

Mary was born in Norfolk, Ridgewell, a small town on west Essex border. She grew up in a large family with five sisters and one brother so she was used to a busy household.

She had a close relationship with her father who worked on the Colne Valley Railway line maintaining and repairing the tracks, so trains have always been an important part of her life.

In 1934, Mary’s family moved to Harwich and she had to leave school to start work. She was always a keen reader though and educated herself by reading a variety of English literature books.

Her first job was working as a cook for HMS Ganges during WW2, which was a large training ship. When waiting for the boat once, she met a man called Stanley. They got to talking and connected almost instantly, leading to their marriage some years later in 1949! Stanley was a merchant seaman and when asked why she married him, Mary laughed and said, “because I thought he’d be away most of the time.”

After the war came to end, Mary began working as a cook at Bernard clothing factory in Harwich. At the time, this was one of the biggest employers in the region and used to supply uniforms to the Ministry of Defence. Soon after taking up the position, Mary gave birth to Georgie and moved to Framlingham in Suffolk, where Stanley began work as a Farmer. Her son, Sam arrived shortly after in 1956 so the family decided to relocate back to Essex to raise their children and so Stanley could work on the boats again.

Stanley, unfortunately, passed away in 1993, so Mary spent a lot of time with her brother in Wrabness, a place where she was popular with the locals.

Now living at Lime Court Care Home, Mary enjoys a more relaxed approach to life and likes to spend time with her family when they visit. When asked what her key to a long life is, she said, “if you are going to live for a long time it is important to have good health!”, but proudly admitted that she still enjoys the odd glass of wine!

15 Jan 20

‘Resident of the day’ June shows-off her piano playing skills at Buchan House

Team members at Buchan House Care Home are passionate about providing person-centred care and always work to ensure each individual is fulfilled in their environment.

To help ensure this, team members set up a ‘resident of the day’ scheme. Each day a different person is selected as the resident of the day, which gives them the power to make decisions about the activities they do and even the food they eat. Everyone at the home comes together to ensure their needs are met and the day is as special as it can be.

This week, it was June’s turn to be the resident of the day, so she decided to spend it playing the Piano. June lives with dementia and is a talented musician but admitted she hadn’t played for years. Although Buchan House has a piano on-site, June’s condition can impact on her mood so each request to play has been declined, but on her special day, June felt that it was time to get back behind the keys.

With Lifestyle Coordinator Kathryn watching, June sat up at the piano and began playing. It was almost as if she had never stopped as she was able to remember tunes from the past and played them with confidence. It was great watching someone break the restrictions of their condition and reconnect with a hobby from the past. She looked really happy on the stool and was grateful that the scheme had given her the opportunity and support to give it another go.

This scheme not only gives residents the opportunity to do the things they love, but also the power to make decisions for themselves and increase their independence. It’s also really great for their wellbeing and when residents hear their special day is approaching, there’s always an air of excitement!

We will continue to run this scheme, celebrate the individuals we look after every day and hopefully unlock more hidden talents at Buchan House.

15 Jan 20

Balloon Volleyball is a hit with the residents at Goldenley Care Home

Balloon Volleyball was a popular activity at Goldenley Care Home this week. Some people living at the home get quite tired in the afternoon, so team members try to keep them up and active with fun games that encourage light exercise.

One afternoon, Lifestyle Coordinator, Faith decided to start a game of Balloon Volleyball. This is a lighter version of the traditional game and can be played either seated or standing, making it perfect for the residents. This version of the game also offers a slower pace but still encourages movement, communication and teamwork to keep the balloon off of the floor.

To inject some more energy into the game, Faith put on music by one of their favourite pop-rock duos’, Chas and Dave. Many of the residents know and love their music well, as they were popular musicians back in the 80s. Their music has different effects on different people, some enjoy just singing along, whilst for others, the music brings back fond memories from the past.

With the addition of nostalgic tunes, the game took a positive turn and everyone was singing along whilst hitting balloons back and forth. One of the group members, Evelyn, decided to step up and take lead of the game half-way through. She would go and collect the balloons when they dropped on the floor and helped to keep the game going. She was laughing and smiling as they all played together, setting a positive mood for the rest of the activity.

It was a simple yet effective exercise that encouraged people to enjoy the little things and appreciate the friends they have at Goldenley. These moments make for lasting memories and help to strengthen relationships between members of the Excelcare family.

14 Jan 20

Residents chat over cheese and wine at Buchan House Care Home

The first cheese and wine afternoon was held at Buchan House Care Home this week with the residents, lead by Lifestyle Coordinator, Debbie.

There are a range of sociable activities available at the care home each week, but a resident specifically requested a cheese and wine afternoon in a recent meeting. Team members always work hard to try and fulfil these requests and this week, her wish was granted!

For the first session, residents relaxed in the Iris room, while team members served the cheese and wine. There was purposely no structure to the session, so residents were free to talk about whatever they wanted and just enjoy being in the company of friends. For some people in the group, the afternoon brought back memories of previous gatherings with friends and were happy they could relive some of these special moments again.

During the afternoon, the residents were discussing a range of things from war-time memories to moments with loved-ones. Everyone had a great time learning about their peers whilst enjoying the cheese and wine on offer.

This session helped to develop bonds between the people living at Buchan House and gave them time to talk about the things and people they treasure. With positive feedback received from all the residents in the session, team members will be adding this to the schedule as a regular activity, so people can continue to enjoy relaxing afternoons with friends and snacks at Buchan House.

14 Jan 20

Brook House residents catch up on the news

The people living at Brook House Care Home like to stay on top of the news and in touch with whats going on in society. It helps them to feel part of the community and gives them something to debate about during the week.

This week when watching the news, the residents heard about Prince Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back from their royal duties. The Royal family were very prominent in the resident’s lives and played a big role in society, so people at the home began sharing their views with each other.

The resident’s opinions were quite split, with some saying it’s the family they have been born into and need to handle their responsibilities, while others thought they should be able to make their own life decisions. It created some meaningful conversation and evoked opinion amongst the residents – it was wonderful watching them talk so passionately about a subject.

On the day there was also a ‘crisis summit’ taking place, so residents were eagerly awaiting the outcome of that. Meanwhile, they began sharing stories about times they’ve met members of the royal family.

John served in the Navy when he was younger, and recalled the time the Duke of Gloucestershire came on the ship that he was on, which was called a hunt-class destroyer.

Jean remembered meeting the Queen when she was a student at the Domestic Science College in Glasgow, a memory she treasures to this day.

Everyone had an enjoyable time discussing the news and sharing their connected stories. Residents are keeping their eye on the outcome and will no doubt continue their conversations as things progress.

14 Jan 20

Goldenley’s new resident: Smokey the interactive cat

Residents at Goldenley Care Home find comfort in spending time with animals. The residents enjoy cuddling and stroking animals as it provides a boost to their wellbeing and a companion for daily life.

Goldenley is home to one pet cat already and although she is friendly, the majority of her time is spent outside exploring. Many of the people living at Goldenley were pet owners throughout their lives and miss having an animal around, so Home Manager Christine purchased an interactive pet to help fill the gap. They evoke the same positive emotions as live pets and are much more tolerant to long cuddles and being carried around the home.

One of the residents at Goldenley was especially excited about the news. Marjarie has a life-long love of animals and took pride in naming him ‘Smokey’. Smokey responds to interaction through movements and sounds and Majarie enjoyed welcoming him with a cuddle on the sofa! When team members went into the lounge, she was laying down with the cat and said “this is the life”.

Dolls and other interactive items are really beneficial, especially for people living with dementia, as it gives them something to care for and can help a person ‘find a purpose’.

Smokey’s had a good first week at the home and has been popular with the residents. As a result, animal experiences will feature heavily in our activity plan for the year, so residents can keep living their lives to the fullest with plenty of furry friends around!

13 Jan 20

Park Avenue residents enjoy afternoon tea with friends

The residents at Park Avenue in  Bromley, enjoyed an afternoon tea at the care home this week. Some of the residents had made cookies in the morning, so team members brought them along for people to dip in their hot drinks!

Ahead of the tea party, team members pushed the tables together so people to communicate easier. The residents commented on this as they entered the room and liked that they could all see each other. While some went and collected the cookies baked in the morning, staff from the kitchen brought out a selection of other cakes and treats for people to enjoy.

Open sessions like this that encourage group conversation and engagement are really beneficial for the residents, as they help with confidence levels and friendships. The afternoon tea also helped to bring back memories from the past for some residents.

One person in the group shared a story from her past, about when she would go for afternoon tea and how it was considered to be a special event. She spoke about the occasion as if it happened yesterday which was impressive but also was heart-warming to watch her remember special moments from the past.

Not only did the residents have a great afternoon with friends, but also got to experience a traditional tea-party away from the distractions of modern life. This kept it focussed on the people that were there and the conversations they were having.

We are hoping to host afternoon teas more regularly at the care home to promote face to face conversation and further develop the bonds between people living at Park Avenue.