As we head into the Christmas Period and reflect upon a year in which many of us have experienced isolation, there has never been a more significant time to focus on staying connected with our friends and families. It is also important to note that, unfortunately, there is one group that has been affected more so than others: our elderly relatives.
Here at The Beeches Residential Home, we have been working tirelessly throughout this difficult year to keep our residents motivated, happy and most importantly, connected to their loved ones by using innovative technology and creative ways.
If you have elderly or vulnerable relatives that are in isolation, they don’t have to feel alone during this period. We have put together a few key tips on how we have stayed busy and connected during the Coronavirus pandemic.
You could use these ideas to help you celebrate with your loved ones as best as you can this Christmas and New year:
Arranging a video call
Thanks to the power of technology, we are better able to stay connected with each other remotely. One of the best examples of this is through video calling. There are many popular platforms to do this, such as Skype or Zoom, where you can connect with your relatives on a visual level – which sometimes is better than simply giving them a call on the phone.
At The Beeches, we have utilised technology to allow our residents to speak to their loved ones regularly. Enabling our residents to see a loved one virtually has had huge beneficial effects to our residents, both mentally and emotionally, and we are so proud to be able make this part of the daily schedule within our home.
Sending or delivering letters to your loved one
The best way to show someone you care about them, is to give them a handwritten letter. You can always send an email to your relatives within a matter of seconds but isn’t it much sweeter and memorable to send a good old-fashioned letter to let them know you are thinking of them. Equally, handmade cards take the sentimental value to another level or two – you don’t have to be amazing at arts and crafts to produce a memorable card, it’s the thought that counts!
We have absolutely loved reading and receiving letters and cards of encouragement from friends and family throughout the last year, and it has helped brighten our resident’s spirits during this difficult time.
Encouraging your loved ones to join initiatives to support the community during difficult times like this can be a great morale boost. For example, Clap for Carers proved to be so powerful, where people of all ages joined in to support the NHS where they could.
We have also joined in with Vamos Theatre’s ‘The Wednesday Wave’; a campaign to tackle pandemic loneliness and isolation. Every Wednesday, from mid-October until mid-December we have been encouraging the community to join us for a wave at the window!
Anyone and everyone have been encouraged to wave along, wherever they see ‘The Wednesday Wave’ poster, or a hand drawing displayed, and we believe this has really kept us connected with the community.
Our residents have also stayed busy during lockdown by creating giraffes as part of Ixworth Primary School’s ‘Mini Zoo Trail’ around the village. This was a great initiative and the children really enjoyed the creations our residents made!
Joining a pen pal scheme
There has never been a better time to have a pen pal, it’s an opportunity to get personal again – It really makes you feel connected to another person in a way that talking on the phone, texting, video calling, or even seeing them in person can’t achieve. It also proves to be a really fun and exciting activity when writing and reading letters from your pen pal.
This year at The Beeches, we have been keeping our residents connected with young people during the coronavirus pandemic, by joining the YOPEY befriender letter-writing scheme.
YOPEY, the young people of the year charity, traditionally runs befriending schemes where young people visit care homes, but, due to lockdown, have had to put these on hold during the coronavirus crisis. However, despite visits stopping during lockdown, the charity and its young volunteers wanted to continue to support elderly care home residents at a time when they needed it the most, so decided to start a letter-writing scheme.
Creating and maintaining social connections with the younger generation is key to supporting the mental wellbeing of our residents and in turn, it helps them to age well!
Care packages and gifts
Sending your loved one a care package, or a thoughtful gift, is a great way to show that they are in your thoughts. You can personalise this package in many different ways. For example, you could go for a treat package with chocolate, marshmallows and sweets. Again, it is the thought that counts, and it will be greatly appreciated by your elderly loved ones. When gathering items to include in your package or gift, sticking with local retailers and independent businesses, who are feeling the effects of lockdown more than most, is a great way to help your community.
At The Beeches, during lockdown, we have really loved receiving some beautiful care packages and gifts from family and friends. We also celebrated Mother’s Day in the home during March and received some beautiful gifts and flowers. Our ladies had a wonderful day celebrating!
Based in Ixworth, just outside of Bury St Edmunds, The Beeches provides specialist dementia support and a daily roster of activities to enjoy, creating a safe and supportive environment to meet others and live happily.
If you’re interested in hearing more about The Beeches Residential Home, our team would be happy to talk to you. Contact us on 01359 230773 or email firstname.lastname@example.org