20 Jan 20

New equipment adds excitement to daily life at Ashlyn Care Home

Over the last few weeks, Ashlyn Care Home has introduced new equipment with the money raised from their fundraising efforts. This equipment opens up new opportunities for everyone at the care home and has already added value to activities and daily life.

One of the items they recently bought was a magical tablecloth. This sits on top of the table like any other would, but is made out of a material that prevents staining. This means residents can use it as an extended canvas to doodle on during activities or in their free time.

This added excitement to an afternoon tea recently, as residents were drawing pictures and playing written games with their friends. It added a completely new dynamic to their usual social activities and encouraged people to spend more quality time together.

As well as the entertainment benefits of this equipment, it also reduces paper waste – a win for everyone at Ashlyn.

Another piece of equipment that continues to impress is the new Interactive Table by tech company, Sharp. This easy to use touch-screen device has games and activities pre-programmed in that people can play in groups or individually. Many of the residents aren’t familiar with this type of technology, but the simple layout has been easy to follow and some have already picked it up!

This equipment gives residents quick and easy access to games and other wellbeing activities. It also gives people the opportunity to engage in activities outside of the usual schedule, without needing assistance. It’s already changed daily life at the care home and encouraged those who didn’t get involved with activities before, to step up and be curious. Team members also have more time to focus on the important things – ensuring everyone is safe, healthy and having fun!

After the positive effects of this new equipment, team members will be looking for new and innovative items to fundraise for and continue improving life for the residents at Ashlyn!

20 Jan 20

Buchan House residents enjoy retail therapy in Cambridge Town Centre

Buchan House residents recently took their first in a series of planned trips to Cambridge for some retail therapy. People were especially excited for this trip as the January sales offered the opportunity to pick up a bargain!

These trips were started after a resident requested it in a meeting. Other people there on the day were also keen to visit the shops, so team members pledged to make it a monthly activity.

Trips into the community are really beneficial for the residents as they help to improve their independence, giving them choice and freedom to do as they wish. As a requested activity, team members invited friends and family along so they could go off together, look around and spend valuable time with their loved ones. The team members in attendance were merely there to support, so residents without family members present enjoyed leading them on a tour for the day.

With the January sales in full swing, people were looking through the racks and trying to find a bargain. This made the shops quite busy, but everyone was patient and enjoyed chatting with the locals whilst waiting.

Hazel is a resident at the care home who had a particularly enjoyable day as her daughter, Chrissy, joined her for the trip. Chrissy proved useful in finding some lovely items in the sale and Hazel feeling fulfilled having spent quality time with her daughter too.

Team members and other residents at Buchan House are excited for their trips into town and the memories they will make!

20 Jan 20

Zoolab delivers unique animal experience at Goldenley Care Home

It’s no secret that the people living at Goldenley Care Home are animal lovers! The home receives visits from Pets as Therapy (PAT) dogs and small farm animals quite frequently, so team members recently organised for a more exotic group of animals to come in.

Zoolab is a company that offers ethical and engaging animal experiences that are accessible for all. They have a range of different options that are tailored to the environment they’re entering, which ensures everyone has an enjoyable experience.

Before the session started, Katie from the company introduced the animals and taught the residents a bit about their life in the wild. Peter the Giant Snail, George the Corn Snake and Susan the Cockroach were just a few of the animals the residents met and everyone was excited for some one-to-one time with them.

Accompanied by staff, the residents had time to sit with each animal and stroke them whilst they chatted with friends. Residents were commenting on how they felt and showed a real interest about their lives in the wild.

Marg lives at the care home and liked the feel of George the Corn Snake running through her fingers. Peter the Giant Snail was definitely the star of the show though as he proved to be really popular with all of the residents.

It was great watching people meet new animals and in some cases, conquer their fears from the past. The team from Zoolab made it really engaging for the residents and they had plenty of interesting facts to share. When asked what he thought of the session, Les (a resident), said: ” I had such a great time and I found it very interesting”.

Thanks to Zoolab and the team for coming along and making this experience possible for the residents, we all had a great time and stories of the session continued late into the evening. We hope to welcome Zoolab back soon so everyone can benefit from more regular experiences with unique animals from around the world.

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.