There were balloons, ribbons, and a feast fit for a centenarian at Great Horkesley Manor, as one of our residents celebrated their 102nd birthday.

Phyllis Webber, who had previously worked as a nurse at the old Severalls Hospital in Colchester, was joined by friends, family, and fellow residents for an afternoon tea party in the newly refurbished Great Horkesley Manor lounge areas.

Phyllis’ son Peter and her daughter Linda joined the celebrations as she opened a considerable number of presents and cards. In addition, Phyllis also has three grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Phyllis’ daughter Linda said: “We had such an enjoyable afternoon. The home planned a great party and there were so many people there to celebrate mum’s birthday.”

Having lived at Great Horkesley Manor for five years, Phyllis is a keen participant in the busy activities programme at the home. Watching wildlife in the beautiful grounds and attending church services are among her favourite pastimes. Every year, the care team organise a huge party for her, which has become a highlight for her fellow residents at the home too.

“I’m Always Up for a Party”

Phyllis said: “I had a lovely time celebrating my birthday with my friends and family at Great Horkesley Manor. Although I’m not getting any younger, I’m always up for a party, it was great fun!”

Lacina Sylla, deputy manager at Great Horkesley Manor, said: “Phyllis is a wonderful member of the Great Horkesley Manor family. She’s a very happy lady who enjoys pottering around in her room or helping others around the home.

“I hope she enjoyed celebrating her birthday with her friends and family at the home as much as we did.”

At Great Horkesley Manor, your friends and family are welcome to visit at any time, particularly on your birthday. Our friendly team are always happy to help organise events to celebrate the occasions that are special to you.


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A brand new unit at Larchwood Care’s Oake Meadows Care Home in Taunton is helping to reduce unnecessary hospital stays in the town.

The new facilty has opened at the care home in partnership with Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, Somerset County Council and Larchwood Care, to rehabilitate people recently discharged from hospital.

The unit, which has been given the name ‘Willow’, offers ongoing support and assessment for patients leaving acute care at Musgrove Park Hospital. With 15 bedrooms and a mix of specialist staff from all three of the organisations involved, the wing specialises in reablement and physiotherapy.

Willow unit is one of three approaches being utilised to reduce long, unnecessary hospital stays in the Taunton area. This works alongside greater support and therapy at home as well as short term reablement, to help individuals achieve a return to independent living.

Lynn Fearn, Larchwood Care’s Managing Director, said: “We’re delighted to be working closely with the NHS trust and county council to host the Willow Unit at Oake Meadows.”

“Leaving hospital and returning home, can be a difficult process, particularly when the individual has been away for some time. This facility enables them to gear back up towards independent living in a safe and comfortable environment.”

Supporting People to Live Independently

Councillor David Huxtable, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care at Somerset County Council said: “Somerset County Council is delighted to work with our partners to launch this new facility. Our aim is to improve lives and support people to live independently, and this new facility will help those leaving hospital to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.”

Kate Smith, who is responsible for therapy services at Musgrove Park Hospital, said: “We are very pleased to be able to offer additional care through the Somerset Home First service for patients who need support to get back to their usual daily routine after leaving hospital.

“By working closely with the excellent trained staff at Oake Meadows Care Home, our patients will continue to get the care they need with a much-reduced risk of being readmitted to our district general hospital.

“On average we are seeing that patients who benefit from the Home First service tend to stay five fewer days in hospital than they normally would have.

“And, many of our patients and their families have told us that they were very happy to leave hospital sooner with support from therapists.”

The residents of Briar House Care Home in Kings Lynn have enjoyed an afternoon surrounded by love hearts and sweet treats as they celebrated Valentines Day.

Loved ones were invited to join residents at the home for a delicious afternoon tea to mark the occasion. The Briar House team spent time decorating the dining room with heart-shaped balloons, mobiles and banners.

On entering the room, guests were greeted with specially set tables complete with red table cloth, heart-shaped napkins, and red roses. As residents and their loved ones chatted, the afternoon tea was served. Guests enjoyed an array of savoury treats and cakes, with heart-shaped cupcakes the star of the show.

Briar House resident Michael enjoyed the Valentine’s Day afternoon tea with his wife Sue. Afterwards, Sue said; “Honestly, Michael and I have had dinner at expensive restaurants where far less trouble has been taken. The table which had been set just for the two of us was delightful. The little heart-shaped iced cakes sprinkled with tiny hearts were so thoughtful and also delicious.”

Helping Residents Organise Surprises

In the days before the event, members of the Briar House team helped residents choose cards and gifts for their loved ones. After receiving her card and gift, Sue said; “A great big thank you to Jo for choosing just the right card and chocolates for me from Michael.  She tells me she was under strict instructions!”

Residents and their guests also had the chance to win a hamper full of romantic gifts, kindly donated by staff and visitors to the home.

At Briar House, we strive to ensure that residents continue to celebrate the events and festivals that are special to them. Our dedicated Activities Coordinator plans a great selection of things to enjoy each week, so you will always find something exciting to look forward to at the home.


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Residents of Highfield House Care Home in Bekesbourne, Canterbury, have enjoyed a busy programme of activities so far this year.

The home’s dedicated Activities Coordinator puts together a varied weekly programme of things for residents to enjoy. These include group activities in the communal areas, as well as activities designed for those with reduced mobility to enjoy in the comfort of their own rooms.

Creative pastimes are a firm favourite with Highfield residents. The home has an active knitting and crochet fraternity, who regularly meet to create designs and to have a good old chat. During February residents spent a week having a go at expressionist art. Using paints and canvases, residents enjoyed letting their imaginations run wild, creating all sorts of colourful designs.

Looking Forward to Spring

In the last week, our craft activities have taken a springtime twist, with residents creating their own miniature indoor gardens. Using miniature figures, craft items, and gravel, they have created some wonderful unicorn gardens.

Live music and birthday celebrations have been amongst the big highlights of the last few weeks, with Elvis gracing us with his presence. Our local Elvis impersonator is a firm favourite at Highfield, and once again got everyone clapping and singing along to all of the ‘King’s’ biggest hits. Continuing the party atmosphere, a crowd gathered in one of our residents’ rooms to wish them a happy birthday. Family, friends, and members of staff came together to sing a chorus of ‘Happy Birthday’ as a Birthday cake was brought into the room.

Residents and the Highfield Care Home team are already looking forward to busy spring and Easter period, with plenty of arts and crafts, entertainment, and gardening activities on the horizon.


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Residents at Avonbridge Care Home in Hamilton recently received the opportunity to grill their local MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall, and Stonehouse, during an official visit to the home.

Christine McKelvie, who is also the current Scottish Minister for Older People and Equalities, spent an afternoon chatting with residents about what is important to them and their views on local issues. The residents really appreciated having their thoughts listened to.

Following her chat with the MSP, Avonbridge resident Agnes Brown, commented: “It was good getting to speak to Christina. I used to pay attention to politics but don’t really bother as much now, but it was good to speak to her about what was going on in our area.”

She joked: “I was hoping she could tell us what was going on with this Brexit carry-on, but I don’t think even she knew what is going on with that!”

Creating a Dementia-Friendly Environment

Mrs McKelvie also spent time having a tour of the facility and met members of the care team. During the tour, she learned of the home’s plans to adapt further areas of Avonbridge Care Home for the benefit of residents living with dementia.

Commenting on her visit, Christina McKelvie MSP said: “It was great to visit Avonbridge again and get a look around the lovely home. I had a wonderful afternoon chatting to the residents and hearing about all the work the staff have planned to revamp the home to make it even more dementia-friendly!”

Upcoming plans include installing specially designed murals to aid with reminiscence therapy. Depicting scenes from times gone by, these murals can help to create a familiar and comforting environment for those living with dementia. The team at Avonbridge will be installing these over the next few weeks.

Avonbridge’s Home Manager, Michelle Ruiz-Beltran, said: “We are delighted to be a part of our local community. That’s why it was such a pleasure to welcome Ms McKelvie to look round our home and spend an afternoon discussing local issues with our residents.”


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Wishes are starting to come true for the lucky residents of Cranford Care Home in Aberdeen, thanks to their new ‘Wishing Tree’.

The tree, which is placed in the reception area of the home, encourages residents to write a note expressing a wish that they would most like to come true. The first wish on the tree was from Cranford resident Mina. Mina wrote a note for the tree saying; “I wish I could go for a dinner date with my husband.”

The care team organised a date with Mina’s husband Ron and set two places at the home’s best table in the bay window of the dining room. With roses on the table and wine to toast the occasion, the couple enjoyed a romantic meal for two.

Michelle Paterson, Care Home Manager at Cranford, said; “Mina and Ron have been married for 65 years. They have a lovely bond and Ron visits daily to spend time with Mina.”

Hopes and Dreams for the Future

“I first saw the wishing tree idea when I worked overseas. In that particular facility, it was a wishing well, but the idea was the same. At Cranford Care Home, we plan to have a wish for all of our residents and aim to make them come true one by one.”

The amount of wishes appearing on the tree has increased following Mina and Ron’s date night. It looks like there will be some thoroughly enjoyable challenges ahead for the team at the home.

The Cranford family are always looking for ways to go the extra mile to ensure that our residents live happy, fulfilled, and meaningful lives. We believe that getting residents to set achievable hopes and dreams for the future is the perfect way to achieve this.


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Residents of St Mary’s Care Home in Scunthorpe marked the most romantic day of the year with Valentine’s themed crafts, live music, and a Valentine’s Day party.

The home runs regular arts and crafts sessions, and residents particularly enjoy using these to create decorations for events in the home. In the run-up to 14th February, residents were busy creating beautiful table centres using sparkly materials in the classic romantic colours of red and pink.

Our activities team have a wealth of decorations, banners, and bunting for various holidays and events, which residents love to decorate the home with. They spent a morning carefully placing ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ banners and heart-shaped bunting around the home ready for our Valentine’s Day party.

Renee, a resident of St Mary’s, said; “I like sorting out the decorations because it gets me excited about whatever is happening.”

While helping dress the home, Margaret, a fellow resident, added; “I’m looking forward to the party tomorrow.”

Live Music and Love Songs

On the big day, a crowd gathered in the lounge to watch local singer Kennie J perform. He sang a mix of classic songs, with a few love songs thrown in to add to the Valentine’s Day mood.

Another of our residents, Mary, commented; “I really like his style. He does quite a mixture so there is something for everyone.”

Fellow St Mary’s resident Jean said; ‘He did one of my Roy’s favourites, ‘Sweet Caroline’ and lots of other love songs.”

“I had a wonderful time and I have invited him back. I hope he accepts,” added one of our newest residents, Irene.

At St Mary’s Care Home, we love to help our residents celebrate festivals, events, and special days, and work to ensure that we do so in a way that is inclusive for everyone.


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A group of residents from Hope House Care Home in Clayton-le-Moors have enjoyed a spot of retail therapy and a leisurely lunch in the market town of Skipton.

The home prides itself on being able to offer residents frequent trips out in the local area. This gives us great flexibility and allows residents to suggest places they would like to visit. Recently, the activities team received a request to organise a shopping trip to Skipton. Hope House residents Kathleen, Pat and Ernie had a lovely day in the town. They enjoyed a traditional pub lunch in the Red Lion, with scampi and chips the order of the day.

Following a nice chat over a round of coffees, the group enjoyed a walk around the shops. Escorted by members of our team, they wandered around the high street stores and found some great local independent shops. While in the town centre, Pat treated herself to a new diary, a cardigan and some liquorice. Meanwhile, Kathleen bought herself a new blouse and a bracelet.

Favourite Places

Offering trips to residents is an important part of what we do at Hope House Care Home. A great number of our residents have lived in the local area for most of their lives, so being able to take them to the places they have always loved to visit offers great comfort. It also shows that moving into a care home does not mean you have to stop doing the things you enjoy.

Many of the places we visit hold special memories for our residents, whether they be from their childhood or the places they visited with their own children. Our dedicated team are always happy to listen to suggestions for day trips, and where possible, will organise excursions that are special to you.


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A resident of Avonbridge Care Home in Hamilton has celebrated her 100th birthday with a very special guest. Martha Whip began her birthday celebrations with one-year-old Erin Winton, who was born 99 years later on the same day.

The home holds a weekly Music Makers and Shakers class, where residents are joined by local parents and their children for a morning of music and movement. Erin attends the class with her mum Laura Provan. After hearing they shared the same birthday, they could not wait to have a photograph taken together.

Laura said; “Erin absolutely loves coming to the Music Makers and seeing all the residents every week. It was so lovely to see Erin celebrate her first birthday with Martha.”

Michelle Ruiz-Beltran, Care Home Manager of Avonbridge, added: “Martha is a lovely member of the Avonbridge family, and we have thoroughly enjoyed celebrating this milestone birthday with her.

“It was great to see Erin and Martha enjoying their birthdays together, at almost 100 years apart, they are an unlikely but wonderful pair.”

An Official Visit

Martha’s birthday celebrations did not stop there! Later, residents of the home joined Martha’s friends and family in the lounge for an official visit. As Martha entered the room, she was greeted by Ian McAllan, Provost of South Lanarkshire Council and Deputy Lieutenant, John McKenzie. This was followed by a loud cheer of “surprise” from the crowd.

Martha was then presented with her card from the Queen and a bouquet of flowers in front of her friends and family. Shortly afterwards, surrounded by giant “100” balloons, members of the Avonbridge team delivered a celebration cake, while the room erupted into a chorus of “Happy Birthday.”

Billy Whip, Martha’s son, said: “Mum had a great time on her birthday and the home went to a great deal of effort to make sure her day was special. We couldn’t believe it was Erin’s first birthday on the same day. It was really nice to celebrate two big birthdays together.”


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The residents of Hope House Care Home in Clayton-le-Moors, near Accrington, have been whisked away to a mystical land with a performance of the pantomime Aladdin.

The home, which has use of its own minibus, organises frequent trips for residents. There are many favourite destinations that residents like to visit, but the Hope House team are always happy to listen to new suggestions. During January, quite a few residents said that they would really like to see a pantomime. For many, trips to the theatre have formed a large part of their lives and provided many happy memories. With that in mind, we had to make their wishes come true!

With such a large contingent excited at the thought of watching a performance, we organised two trips to the Muni Theatre in Colne. This year’s pantomime was the classic Aladdin, with a star-studded cast of actors from a host of TV shows. The big star of the show this year was Bruce Jones, or Les Battersby, as fans of Coronation Street will know him. He played a devilishly good villain as Abanazar. Also in the cast this year were Kelsey Beth Crossley (Scarlett Nicholls from Emmerdale), and Sean Smith (from X Factor’s Same Difference).

Free Ice Cream!

The first trip saw residents John, Pat, Brenda, Evelyn, Kathleen, Dorothy and Christina enjoy the spectacle. While the second trip gave Jean, Barbara, Geoff, Kathleen, her husband Gordon, Kevin and Ernie the chance to rekindle their love of the theatre. As an extra surprise, during the interval break, everyone got a complimentary tub of ice cream and a drink.

All of our residents had a wonderful time and have not stopped talking about their trip to the theatre since. We are now regularly checking the theatre listings to plan our next big outing!


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