31 Dec 19

Hazel from Hunters Down tells of her life-long love for baking

Hazel is a resident at Hunters Down Care Home who has many talents but is most known for her baking skills.

Her passion for baking stemmed from a hobby she picked up when living in South Africa. She would regularly bake cakes for family and friends on special occasions. She recalls making her daughters 21st birthday cake, which was shaped like a horseshoe. When her wider family noticed her skills she was quickly asked to make more. She made a panda-shaped cake for her granddaughters birthday, a bake she is still very proud of.

Throughout her life, Hazel made many cakes for weddings and anniversaries. For these types of cake, she said, they would usually have three tiers and be baked using 9, 11, and 13-inch tins. Sometimes, when people requested shaped cakes, her husband would hand-make the tins to achieve the desired look.

Hazel took lots of pride in her baking. So much so that she would usually attend the weddings of those she baked for, to taste what she made and get opinions from the guests. This helped her to shape her recipes until they were perfect! She can still recall some of the techniques she used when baking certain cakes;

  • She hand made her own royal icing using egg white and icing sugar
  • She would make and shape almond paste to achieve intricate details
  • She was also skilled at lacework and making edible flowers which would feature on many of her cakes

One of Hazel’s most memorable creations was a fruit-cake she made that was shaped like a church. She used four 12 inch fruitcakes and spent many hours shaping it. When churches in the local community saw this, they all put requests in to have their churches sculpted into cake.

All of her cake decorating was done in a dedicated room in her house, where she had all the tools and ingredients she needed. This caused problems sometimes though, as when she baked big cakes they would be difficult to get through the door. One time, she had to call the local carpenter to saw off a piece of cake board in order to get it out the door!

Now living at Hunters Down Care Home, Hazel finds baking more of a challenge but still enjoys taking part in cake making activities, which her daughter sometimes joins her for.

The most important thing is that Hazel is still baking and enjoying it just as much to this day!

31 Dec 19

PAT dog Ellie visits Goldenley Care Home

The residents at Goldenley Care Home received a visit from Val and her Pets as Therapy (PAT) Dog Ellie this week. These visits really boost wellbeing at the care home, as animals provide a different sort of company, companionship, and they’re a calming influence on the residents.

People living at the care home like to spend time with animals, stroking and sometimes walking them, so team members ensure this is part of their varied schedule.

Val is a volunteer who brought her German Shepherd, Ellie along to see the residents at Goldenley. Ellie is a caring and patient dog who provides therapy through her presence, showing affection to the residents and generally boosting the mood around the home.

Phyllis was one of the residents who spent time with Ellie. She fed her small treats and said she was beautiful. Ken was another of the residents who met Ellie and for him, their visit helped to bring back memories of dogs he owned in the past.

Val and Ellie then made their way around the rest of the care home to greet people on different levels and those in their rooms. Everyone was really happy to see Ellie and many people shared compliments about her.

After their visit, conversation about Ellie continued into the evening – the sign of a well-enjoyed activity!

30 Dec 19

St Fillans residents reminisce and share life advice

Team members at St Fillans Care Home are always looking for ways to engage with people in the local community. They are often able to provide a different perspective and the residents always enjoy meeting new people. Some of the residents especially enjoy it when younger people visit as they can take part in activities together and share advice.

With local children on their Christmas holidays, team members thought of an activity that would get people thinking about the younger guests and their futures. Using experiences and lessons from their past, residents were asked to come up with one piece of advice for the younger generation. Before writing down their thoughts, the group were given time to talk about some of the main things that have changed since they were younger.

They pointed out that when they were young the television hadn’t been invented, but throughout their life have seen it evolve in capability, including colour pictures as opposed to black and white. The residents also spoke about what they used to do for fun which included bike riding, climbing trees and playing outside, whereas the younger generations today spent lots of time on their phone and using electrical toys.

After this discussion, the residents were asked to write down their life’s advice on a piece of paper. They were really thinking about what they wrote down to ensure it was personal to them and useful for the children. Paul was a member of the group who wrote down, ‘always be honest’, whilst Wendy wrote, ‘Follow your dreams, believe in yourself and never give up’.

Everyone enjoyed reminiscing and writing down their best advice. When the local school visits in the new year, residents will be sharing their thoughts for the children to take forward in 2020.

30 Dec 19

Christmas at Excelcare

Team members, residents and relatives who have been to Excelcare Homes over the Christmas Break would have seen the fun and engaging activities that we have been up to. There has been lots of singing, dancing and special guests who have helped to inject excitement and Christmas spirit into our celebrations.

With so much going on, we have collated some of our Christmas stories together from across the group to finish 2019 with a smile – Click here.

We hope you have enjoyed hearing about the activities and events we get up. Join us back here in the New Year to see what exciting things we have coming up!


27 Dec 19

Hudson the Elf visits residents at Ashlyn Care Home

Residents living in the dementia suite at Ashlyn Care Home got a surprise visit from Hudson the Elf this week.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, many of the resident’s activities were disrupted by some naughty elves who were out to cause chaos. This visit was a little different though, as Hudson was there to spread Christmas cheer and hand-out some presents.

Hudson is the great-grandson of Jean, a resident at the care home, who was joined by his sister to visit the residents. They made their way around the suite together, greeting the residents and handing out Christmas gifts. They sat and spoke with each of them too, which was a present in itself for many, as they love spending time with children and seeing the excitement on their faces at Christmas-time.

One by one, the residents received their gifts and you could feel the atmosphere change almost instantly. Everyone was smiling and you could tell their visit had a positive impact on each individual.

Jean’s family have been very good to the people living and working at Ashlyn, regularly helping out with events, fundraising efforts and wellbeing activities at the home. They have a great relationship with the residents and are always welcomed with open arms!

We hope each of you had as much fun this Christmas as we did at Ashlyn – roll on the new year celebrations!

27 Dec 19

Castlebar Care Home residents visit Polhill Garden Centre

The residents at Castlebar Care Home were joined by friends and family on a recent trip to Polhill Garden Centre. Inviting loved ones along to day-trips has a really positive impact on the residents and provides the opportunity to make memories together.

Everyone at Castlebar loves visiting Polhill, as they always have interesting displays and a large variety of gifts. Their on-site cafe is also a popular spot for residents and provides the perfect place to rest and enjoy a hot drink.

As the group arrived at the garden centre, they split up and agreed to meet back at the cafe later in the day. Some people headed off with their family members, while a group of residents stayed with the team members and made their way around together.

The residents enjoyed looking at the decorations as they went through each of the different areas. The candle section was popular for some as they enjoyed smelling the different fruity fragrances.

As they walked around, you could see some of the other residents smiling while they spent quality time with their loved ones. It was wonderful seeing everyone together at Christmas and enjoying each other’s company.

Later in the day, the group met back at the café for a Christmas lunch. It was served with all the trimmings and the residents commented how nice it all was. Shopping in the morning had put everyone in a festive mood, so talk soon turned to Christmas Day and how people were spending it. This provided an opportunity to learn more about family traditions and the personal stories connected to each.

After eating their lunch, everyone was given the opportunity to pick up some last-minute gifts before heading home to Castlebar. It was a really fun and fulfilling day for all of the residents and relatives.

Thank you all for coming and making our Christmas celebrations so special!

27 Dec 19

Goldenley resident, Joan receives a special Christmas gift

Residents at Goldenley Care Home have enjoyed a Christmas full of family visits and festive-themed activities. It’s been really good fun and many happy memories have been made.

Joan is one of the residents at the care home, who was especially excited when a special gift arrived for her this week. She headed down to reception where she found a tree in a gold pouch waiting for her. She smiled as she read the note and said, “Oh my it’s so beautiful, I can put it in my room! I’m so lucky to have a special family.”

Lifestyle Coordinator Faith, offered to help Joan pot the plant and add some Christmas decorations. The pair went away and spent some one-to-one time together, chatting about family and the Christmas period as they worked together. Faith found some lights and baubles which they used to give the tree some sparkle before taking it up to Joan’s room. Joan loves having plants in her room as they give off a fresh smell and provides her with something to look after daily. This helps to add a routine to her schedule and gives her a personal responsibility.

Joan thanked Faith for helping out and finished the session with a smile on her face, happy with her mini-Christmas tree. Receiving small gifts like this can really boost an individual’s wellbeing, as it reminds them they’re being thought about and often brings back happy family memories.

We hope you all have a had as much fun as we have and wish you the best start for 2020.

23 Dec 19

Park Avenue residents receive presents from local police cadets

Residents and team members at Park Avenue Care Home were surprised when a group of police cadets came to visit the home. They weren’t there to make an arrest though! instead, they had come along to drop off some presents to the residents.

After being introduced to team members, the cadets were taken around the different floors to meet the residents. The people living at Park Avenue were excited to meet them, so they came out of their rooms and gathered in the lounge. As the cadets made their way around and spoke to the residents, they also handed out gifts. The people of Park Avenue were very surprised and incredibly grateful that they had been thought of this Christmas.

Their visit created lots of excitement and everyone was keen to have a picture with them. Many of the residents said how smart they looked in their uniforms and were very proud of the work they were doing.

One of the highlights of the day was when the group visited a resident in her room whose speech and movement is limited. The group handed her a gift, wished her a very merry Christmas and sat with her while she opened it. This selfless action from the cadets really made her day – It was an emotional moment and one we’re sure will stay with her forever.

After the group had given out their gifts, they went back around to speak to more of the residents before leaving. As they spoke, PC Sullivan told people about the wonderful work that the cadets have been doing in the community and how they plan to visit the home more frequently.

This activity brought so much joy to the residents of Park Avenue. Not only did they get a special gift, but also spent time with people in the community who want to make a difference. This is priceless to the people living here and we’re very grateful to the cadets for being so kind and generous.

23 Dec 19

Windmill welcomes St Judes Primary School for a Christmas visit

The people living at Windmill Care Home had an enjoyable day this week when children from St Judes Primary School came to visit. The residents always look forward to seeing them, as they enjoy doing activities together and take pride in seeing them learn. The people living at Windmill have developed friendships with these children, so they were especially excited to see them just before the Christmas break.

When the group arrived, the residents spent some time with them, talking about their Christmas lists and reminding them to put food out for Santa on Christmas Eve.

Led by their teacher, the children then sang a variety of festive songs including, ‘Silent Night’, ‘Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer’ and many others. Malcolm was one of the residents there on the day who said, “I loved when they sang Silent Night the most as it gave me a warm feeling in my heart”.

There was a special moment when Rachel, a 101-year-old resident at the care home, walked in after getting her hair done whilst the children were singing, ‘Feliz Navidad’, which happens to be one of her favourites. Although she uses a walking aid to travel around, she still impressed everyone with her moves and had a smile on her face throughout.

These types of activities have a really positive impact on the residents as they encourage reminiscence and allow those who don’t have kids in their family, to benefit from time with young people in the community.

Before the children left, they were given a big round of applause and wished a Merry Christmas from everyone at Windmill.

We hope Santa brings you what you want and look forward to seeing you all in the new year!

23 Dec 19

Christmas Carols with Hadleigh Voices Choir at Goldenley Care Home

The residents at Goldenley Care Home were singing and dancing this week when the Hadleigh Voices Choir came to perform.

Faith is a Lifestyle Coordinator at the care home and has been impressed with their performances in the past, so they were invited back to celebrate Christmas with the residents and sing some festive songs. Faith has noticed the positive impact that live music has on the people living at Goldenley, so she regularly hosts sessions that allow them to engage with music.

Residents sat and had a chat in the lounge as they waited for the choir to arrive. They were especially excited for this Christmas edition as music from this time of year helps to bring back festive memories with family and friends.

The group sang some familiar songs from the past that the residents enjoyed singing along to. It was beautiful hearing people singing with the choir, bringing tears of joy to the eye of team members and some of the residents. There was a special moment when Roger got up from his chair to sing with choir member Gill. He had a big smile on his face and posed for a picture with her after the performance – you could tell this had made his day.

Phyllis is also a resident at Goldenley, who said she had a great time and really enjoyed dancing along with the team members.

Not only did this session provide some festive entertainment, but also helped to strengthen relationships in the care home and create new connections. The power that music has on the people living at Goldenley is incredible and when the choir left, the mood and energy around the care home were lifted and conversation about the day continued into the evening.

Thanks to the members of Hadleigh Voices for coming to Goldenley Care Home and delivering an impactful performance.  We hope you all have a Merry Christmas and look forward to welcoming you back in 2020!