With limited Christmas decorations, music or the usual festive celebrations allowed in care homes this year, managers and staff are having to get creative to make sure residents do not miss out on what is so often their favourite time of year.

Philip Stuart, manager at Renaissance Care’s Cowdray Club care home in Aberdeen, has made a huge impact since starting his role at the beginning of the pandemic. He is dedicated to the role which he enjoys, often even getting home late to his own family because he refuses to leave work without having said goodnight to each and every resident.

Despite the pressures on himself and the staff due to vigorous restrictions and infection controls, he is determined to make this Christmas one to remember for the right reasons.

Philip, who has been in the care industry for 16 years, said: “This year has been incredibly challenging for our residents and staff. I think everyone thought by the time Christmas came, Covid would be a distant memory and we would all be reunited with our families and loved ones, but unfortunately this is clearly not the case.

“This time of year is especially important to our residents. Not only is it a time that is filled with fun, laughter and quality time with family and friends, but for those who live with dementia or Alzheimer’s, Christmas is a feast for the senses which can often bring back memories. The music, the lights, the smells – they all hark back to a time filled with joy and love, so without these, this year some residents won’t get that sense of relief which can mean so much to them and their loved ones.

“Not having these moments of escapism will be difficult, and concerningly, may leave those in our care feeling isolated and lonely, which can be very dangerous for elderly resident’s health. With all of this in mind, as well as a determination to make sure my colleagues had a chance to celebrate after an extremely challenging year, we have come up with a way to mark this Christmas and make the best out of a bad situation.

“Family is always the most important thing to our residents, and the staff and I know many of the families well due to the constant communication we have with them, especially throughout lockdown. So, to give them a chance to see each other, we are creating video messages from residents and have even made wipeable Christmas themed backdrop for the videos.

“Instead of welcoming in the nursery and school children, carol singers and entertainers for our residents, myself and the staff are taking it into our own hands and putting on a cracker of a visual Christmas show. Dressed up in festive costumes, we will be silently lip syncing to well-known Christmas songs and telling Christmas jokes.

“Thanks to the recent appeal for outdoor decorations for the home, and the kindness of local businesses and community, we have also been lucky enough to receive donations which has allowed us to get some spectacular outdoor lights and decorations which can be enjoyed by residents from their windows.

“It’s been hard work getting to this stage considering the restrictions, but it’s a testament to everyone involved at how much we’ve managed to pull together, all in the name of Christmas!

The best part for me is seeing how happy and grateful the residents are when they hear about our plans – it makes every second worth it knowing that although this maybe isn’t the Christmas everyone dreamed of, we are still managing to put a smile on their faces.”

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