The residents of Downham Market care home Diamond House have good reason to celebrate after receiving their second COVID-19 vaccinations. 

A light at the end of the tunnel has appeared for many of those who live and work in Larchwood Care Homes, as our residents and staff are now receiving their second coronavirus vaccinations.

All Diamond House residents have been fully vaccinated to date. In addition, each resident is now allowed two nominated visitors to enter the home regularly which brings us one step closer to normality!

The vaccinations were administered by Dr Scott of Bridge Street Surgery at the home in a Covid-secure environment.

The home continues to offer pre-booked outdoor and window visits where possible. Also, family members are able to book virtual calls with their loved ones as they wish. We appreciate how important it is to keep our residents in contact with their families throughout this difficult time.

A Fantastic Day for Residents

Diamond House Home Manager Carly Stannard said: “This is a fantastic day for our residents and their families. We are truly grateful to everyone who made this possible.

“It has been a difficult time, and we still have some way to go, but we’ve been celebrating this wonderful milestone today because it means that at last, we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank my amazing colleagues, our wonderful residents and their family and friends who have supported us throughout the pandemic. When we can finally lift all restrictions – that will be the day we have a big party!”

Ann Prodromou, aged 93, a resident at the Downham Market care home, said: “I am so grateful that I have received both doses of the vaccine.  Everyone at Diamond House has been fantastic all through the pandemic. I know how hard they have worked and appreciate that it can’t have been easy. I’d just like to say a heartfelt thanks.”

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Accrington care home resident Evelyn Corris enjoyed a landmark birthday full of surprises at Hope House.

Evelyn, who lives at the care home in Clayton-le-Moors celebrated her 100th birthday with a surprise performance from a socially distanced singer standing outside in the home’s garden. Evelyn also received a card from the Queen, which she was very excited about!

Now that coronavirus restrictions have eased slightly, and we can welcome a nominated visitor for each resident into the home, Evelyn was able to spend some quality time with her son, Derek Corris.

A ‘fabulous and caring mother’, as described by her son Derek and daughter Jean, Evelyn is a big personality at Hope House and is always keen to participate in the wide variety of activities on offer. Evelyn’s family is very important to her and is a large family; her wider family includes four grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.

A Wonderful Time Spent Celebrating

Evelyn said: “I’ve had such a wonderful time celebrating with my friends at Hope House. This year was very different as I was unable to see lots of my family like I had hoped, but I was certainly spoilt by all the wonderful staff here who planned a fantastic singing performance just for me.

“I put my long life down to walking as much as possible and eating healthily. I also love spending a lot of time with my family making memories, something that definitely keeps me going!”

Cathy Yates, home manager at the Accrington care home, said: “Evelyn always has a kind word for everyone, and she is a valued member of our Hope House family.

“Evelyn had been looking forward to finally getting her 100th birthday card from the Queen and enjoyed being a deserved centre of attention. All our staff ensured she had the best birthday possible, even inviting a singer to perform just for her from the garden. The sun came out for her party, and she didn’t stop smiling all day!”

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Kingsgate Care Home in East Kilbride has become the first care home ‘across the pond’ to participate in a USA initiative, Happygrams.

The home, which is based on Glasgow Road, decided to trial the American platform in December. Since then it has become a staple for residents and their families. So far, more than 60 Happygrams have been delivered.

78-year-old Stuart Duffy, one of the lovely residents at Kingsgate care home, has thoroughly enjoyed the service and has received particularly special Happygrams from his wife, Ann.

Stuart said: “I really enjoyed receiving my Valentine’s Day Happygram from my wife Ann. The Happygrams are such a great idea and they have cheered us all up; we love seeing the pictures from our families and friends and it’s lovely to be reminded they are always thinking about us.”

A Unique Way to Keep in Touch

The Happygram service is very easy to use and it helps to keep residents connected with their loved ones in a unique but special way. Family and friends can hop onto the Happygram website and send a message to their loved ones which is then delivered to the care home.

Users are even able to add photos to the Happygrams! All they need to do is select the home they wish to send the Happygram to by clicking here and fill out the necessary details!

Kathleen Crymble, activities coordinator at Kingsgate care home, said: “The residents have absolutely loved receiving Happygrams from their families. It’s genuinely heart-warming to deliver and assist with the reading of the messages to residents who need a wee bit extra help. The photos are great and it’s good to see the smiling faces of the families – we also love seeing photos of family dogs!

“We remain the only home in the world outside of America to offer a Happygram delivery service and I’d like to say a huge thank you to all our residents’ families and friends who send in Happygrams.”

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Visits have resumed at Reigate-based care home Dungate Manor. Greeted by a typically warm Dungate Manor welcome, residents’ first nominated visitors have been reunited with their loved ones inside the home.

New visiting guidance for care homes in England issued by the UK government allows each resident to nominate one designated person to visit indoors weekly. After receiving the guidance, the team at Dungate Manor completed dynamic risk assessments for reintroducing indoor visiting for the home itself as well as individual risk assessments for each resident. This has helped the home form a safe visiting plan tailored to each individual living at Dungate Manor.

Following a negative lateral flow test result, and wearing appropriate PPE, the first designated visitors passed through the home’s doors on Tuesday 9th March. In an emotional reunion, Deborah Pearl met her mother Pamela Turner for the first time in three months. Deborah said: “It was wonderful and emotional to be able to see Mum yesterday. It was so lovely to be able to visit without a table or screen between us. Mum was smiling and looking well!”

“Thank you to all the staff at Dungate for looking after Mum during this difficult time but I believe we are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and am looking forward to being able to visit Mum more often.”

A Safe and Special Visit

Wendy Lacey, another of the home’s first designated visitors, was thrilled to see her mum. Wendy said: “I would like to say a great big thank you to you all for making my visit to my mum so safe and special! From the moment I walked in the door, I was greeted with kindness and made to feel welcome. The Covid test was carried out with speed and efficiency and I was made comfortable while the results were calculated. Thank goodness it was negative!”

“The visit was so lovely and my mum and I laughed the whole time! I was overwhelmed at how well everything went and at how this horrible situation has been made easier by the kindness, compassion and professionalism of all the staff at Dungate Manor. I can never thank you all enough!”

Dungate Manor’s home manager Abdul Rifai said: “To see families coming back to the building over the last few days has been wonderful. Both residents and their nominated visitors have been so excited to see each other without a screen again. With them now able to hold hands during our designated indoor visits, there have been a lot of smiles on faces here at Dungate Manor.”

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East Renfrewshire-based care home Eastwood Court has held it’s first indoor visits since the revised government care home visiting guidance was released.

The guidance issued by the Scottish government allows each care home resident to have up to two designated visitors weekly, visiting one at a time. After completing dynamic risk assessments for the home, its location in the Giffnock area, and for each of its residents, Eastwood Court welcomed it’s first designated indoor visitor on Tuesday 9th March.

In a double-celebration, Rhona Crosbie surprised her mother Marjory Drysdale with a visit on her 101st birthday. Having had a negative result from her lateral flow test, Rhona was able to sit with her mother in a designated area of the home for the first time in over 12 months. Surrounded by birthday banners, balloons, gifts and cards, they both enjoyed a long-awaited catch-up in person.

Rhona said: “‘It was wonderful to see mum again, it had been over a year and was so special as it was her birthday. Mum looks amazing and it was so nice to see all the familiar faces again, thank you to everyone involved!”

A Life Full of Adventures

Marjorie has been a resident at Eastwood Court since 2008 and has certainly had a life full of adventures. Marjorie enjoyed a career as a school teacher, as well as having three children of her own. She then went on to adopt 10 others. In her spare time, Marjorie embraced the great outdoors as a keen climber. Having conquered the Munroe’s around Scotland, her climbing adventures took her to Europe.

Michelle Ruiz-Beltran, home manager of Eastwood Court, said: “I am delighted that our residents and our loved ones will once again have that meaningful contact that we have waited so long for. I feel incredibly thankful that everyone has supported residents and staff through the past year and continued to support the guidance to get to this point. It is a very emotional time for residents, relatives and staff. This is offering light at the end of a very difficult year.”

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Kingsgate Care Home in East Kilbride ensured that lovebirds Helen and Danny Falloon celebrated Valentine’s Day in true romantic fashion. Particularly since the following day is their wedding anniversary!

This year, the lovely couple celebrated 63 delightful years of marriage together. Helen and Danny enjoyed a restaurant-worthy meal along with their fellow residents at the home to celebrate the day of love.

In the home’s dining room, the tables were dressed with themed decorations including rose petals, confetti and a beautiful red table runner.

However, the 15th February was all about them! The couple received lots of cards from their loved ones and they were also gifted a tasty cake, which didn’t last 5 minutes!

Helen and Danny have been married for 63 years and have two daughters, Anne and Yvonne. Danny was a welder/fitter and Helen worked in schools and supermarkets but enjoyed her job as a barmaid the most.

A Special Occasion

Helen said: “I really enjoyed our Valentine’s Day celebrations. It’s always a special occasion for us as a couple since our wedding anniversary is the following day. The home went to a lot of effort with the gorgeous cake and beautiful decorations, it was lovely.”

Danny said: “Valentine’s Day is always great, but our wedding anniversary is my favourite day. As it is just about my wife and me.  We were spoilt with lots of cards from our family and friends, it was a wonderful day!”

Liz Williamson, peripatetic manager at Kingsgate care home, said: “Helen and Danny are a lovely couple, and to be married for 63 years is quite an achievement.

“All our residents enjoyed Valentine’s Day and we had a lot of fun and making Helen and Danny’s wedding anniversary the next day special was the icing on the cake. Which was also delicious!”

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Residents at Cavell House Care Home in Shoreham have taken a virtual trip to Asia to explore Chinese culture for their Chinese New Year.

The residents of the home on Middle Road also learned how to speak and write in Mandarin which is the most spoken language in the world!

Cavell House’s kitchen assistant, Geri Nacci, was born in Sanxi province, China, and came into the home on her day off to teach the residents her native language. She also helped the residents to discover their Chinese zodiac and learn more about what their sign means.

Later in the day,  the residents painted Chinese fans as part of their Chinese New Year celebrations.

Barbara Hardy, 69, a resident at Cavell House said: “I learnt a lot about China during our Chinese New Year celebrations, I found it informative. I enjoyed making the fan and writing another language was very difficult, but I got the hang of it in the end! I have never been to China but would have liked to have gone, it looks like a wonderful country.”

Lionel Heryet, 87, another resident at Cavell House, said: “I thought our Chinese New Year celebrations were such good fun. I enjoyed learning about the history of the country. Like Barbara, I have never been to China, but I have travelled to some other great places.”

You’re Never Too Old To Learn!

Soumya Baby, home manager at Cavell House, said: “The residents had a lot of fun celebrating Chinese New Year and learning more about the Chinese culture. You’re never too old to learn and it’s important that we all take time to understand more about other cultures and countries, and it was very interesting to discover more about the history of China.

“We would like to say a huge ‘xiè xiè’ to Geri our kitchen porter for taking the time on her day off to come in and share her knowledge and expertise with us.”

Exploring different cultures and learning new skills are very important parts of our activity plans, ensuring our residents continue to enjoy enriched and meaningful lives.

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Hope House Care Home in Clayton-le-Moors, Accrington has ensured married couple Patricia and Michael Hill could celebrate Valentine’s Day in a truly romantic style.

Pat and Michael enjoyed a private dining experience at the home to help make the day extra special. They enjoyed a restaurant-style meal in the home’s Oak Room.

Staff at the home decorated the private room with Valentine’s themed decorations including confetti, heart-shaped bunting and rose petals.

Pat and Michael spent their romantic meal sharing memories of their lives together, including memorable adventures in Australia and America.

The couple have been happily married for 42 years and have two sons, Warren and Jason. Michael was in the Royal Navy for many years and later worked at a local engineering firm. Pat worked at Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) in Blackburn, which was a munitions factory specialising in fuse mechanisms for explosives.

A Never-Ending Smile

Pat said: “I had a lovely afternoon for our Valentine’s Day celebration. Ashley, the home’s activities coordinator, made it very special for us both and we would like to thank her for planning such a lovely meal.”

Michael said: “The meal was great! I’m so happy that the home made the afternoon special and the decorations were lovely! It made us both have a never-ending smile, thank you.”

Cathy Yates, home manager at Hope House care home, said: “Valentine’s Day is a special day for all our residents. We always like to make a fuss for everyone, but particularly for couples that live with us like Pat and Michael.

“We wanted to create a restaurant experience in the comfort of the home for them, and I think we did very well to achieve the special treatment we strived for! Both residents couldn’t stop smiling and we were delighted to be a part of it.”

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There is much excitement in the air at Larchwood Care Homes across the country thanks to a new online digital wellbeing platform.

We are proud to have partnered with Oomph! The UK’s leading wellbeing business for older adults, to roll out their Oomph On Demand platform to all of our care homes in England, Wales and Scotland.

Oomph On Demand is a welcome addition to the well-established activity programmes at each of our homes. All Larchwood Care Homes have at least one dedicated activity coordinator organising a varied and engaging wellbeing calendar of events each week.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, our residents would enjoy regular visits from community groups, entertainers and fitness instructors, as well as enjoying day trips in the local area. During the last year, these have sadly been put on hold. However, our teams have been innovating with technology to ensure that our residents continue to do the things they love most.

From touring the world on virtual cruises to hosting virtual Christmas parties with relatives via Zoom, technology has been hugely important in keeping everyone active and entertained during lockdown periods.

A New Way to Stay Active

Following the first lockdown of 2020 the Oomph! team launched their innovative Oomph On Demand wellbeing platform brimming with digital content to further enhance the mind, body and soul of care home residents.

Thanks to our partnership, Larchwood Care residents and care teams have a wealth of interactive quizzes, musical performers, exercise classes, virtual escapes, and history documentaries at their fingertips 24/7.

While Oomph On Demand will be great to assist with group activities on large smart TVs, it can also be accessed on a one-to-one basis on our homes’ activity tablets or residents’ own devices whenever they wish.

The platform also comes with an abundance of training and resources to assist our Larchwood Care teams with their activity planning.

Encouraging Engagement With Technology

Lynn Fearn, managing director of Larchwood Care, said: “The Oomph On Demand platform is an exciting addition to our extensive activity plans for the homes. Also, it helps us to encourage our residents to engage with technology more effectively.

“At a time when inviting people into our homes such as intergenerational groups, dance teachers or entertainers is not possible, these on-demand activities will help in keeping our residents stimulated and active. Our homes are usually a hive of activity so it is important that we look at every way we can to continue to enrich the lives of our residents at this time.”

Ben Allen, chief executive of Oomph Wellness, said: “I am delighted that Oomph! will be partnering with Larchwood Care on the launch of our new digital wellbeing platform – Oomph! On Demand. Oomph! On Demand provides a wide range of expertly created wellbeing content all in one easy to navigate platform. I am so pleased we can offer this resource to care teams and residents at Larchwood Care Homes, that will enhance meaningful engagement 7 days a week.”

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The team at North Shields-based care home Appleby made sure that their residents had a special Valentine’s Day full of cakes, crafts and cheer.

Ahead of the big day, the team at the home on Military Road were keen to share a little Valentine’s joy with classic love song-themed singalongs and craft activities. Residents adored joining in with the love songs while making Valentine’s cards for their loved ones. In other craft sessions, activities centred around creating multi-coloured hearts and cutout Cupids to decorate love poems. These have been proudly on display in the home throughout the week.

On Valentine’s Day morning, the Appleby residents enjoyed opening cards and gifts from their relatives. In line with current infection control guidelines, these had been held in quarantine for 72 hours but still brought an immense amount of joy to all. To ensure that everyone got to share a little love, the home delivered individual boxes of chocolates to each resident’s room.

A Sweet Treat For All

Adding to the sweetness of the day, there were Valentine’s cakes for all to enjoy. To bring the celebrations to a close, the day was rounded off with an interactive Valentine’s-themed quiz via the home’s new ‘Oomph On Demand‘ digital activities platform.

Clare Leonard, Appleby’s home manager said: “We think it is important to celebrate Valentine’s Day with our residents during these unprecedented times. Of course, it is a special day for our residents with partners, but we also wanted to show all of our residents that they are loved. It really was a fun day for our wonderful residents and also a great chance to show our staff how much they are appreciated and loved too.”

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