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Coronavirus Kent: Care homes in Medway and Northfleet come up with events to keep residents entertained

Care homes have been coming up with ways to keep residents busy while visiting is restricted.

Across the county, residents have had limited access to the outside world even before the national lockdown.

Agincare, which has two care homes in Rochester and one in Chatham, has been coming up with ways to keep residents entertained remotely. Picture: Andrey Popov
Agincare, which has two care homes in Rochester and one in Chatham, has been coming up with ways to keep residents entertained remotely. Picture: Andrey Popov

But events have been organised at homes, such as Chatham's Amherst Court Care Home, to keep residents entertained.

Bosses held a concert in the courtyard on Friday where singer Fred Clark came in with his speakers and guitar and performed for residents who watched from the balcony upstairs.

“We had an idea that, perhaps, we could get one of our singers into the courtyard, so not having direct contact but actually cheering up the staff as well as the residents,” explained general manager Ashley Haydon.

“We have a hospital ward on the top floor and I think everyone was starting to feel a little bit cut off.

“So we had an idea of having a singer and we put a message out, and we were overwhelmed with people volunteering time."

The 42-year-old said he was overwhelmed with the amount of responses received.

He said: “We had more than 60 people volunteering. These are professionals.

“I was aware that a lot of professionals were having their sessions cancelled at care homes.

"That’s, obviously, impacting them as well. These are people who have supported us and we have supported them for many years. It’s about making sure they still have an income as well. All these people are self-employed."

“So we had an idea of having a singer and we put a message out, and we have been overwhelmed with people volunteering time"

Agincare Homes Holdings, which has two care homes in Rochester and one in Chatham, is also determined to offer different ways for families and friends to keep in contact with residents.

Chief operating officer Tim Buckley said: “We know how vital regular contact is for our residents and their families.

“We have different ways for carers and friends to be in touch with their loved ones. Each of our care and nursing homes already has an iPad or tablet for residents to use.

“Staff are encouraging more families to use Skype, video conferencing or FaceTime to maintain as much ‘face-to-face’ contact as possible, or to record messages that we can play to their loved ones.

“We’d also love family members to send in photographs, letters and notes we can admire and talk about. This is especially important for our residents living with dementia.

"All our homes are also using their Facebook pages to keep friends and families updated. Anyone not on social media can still see each home’s latest news on the Agincare website at www.agincare.com.

“Instead of people coming into our homes to lead activities, such as our popular musical entertainers, our teams will be devising lots of ways to keep residents engaged and entertained.

“One of our ideas to combat potential isolation is to encourage members of the public to become a pen pal with a care home resident.

“It would really brighten a resident’s day.”

For details, go to https://www.agincare.com/penpal.

Resident Margaret Smith enjoys Dene Holm's St Patrick's Day celebrations
Resident Margaret Smith enjoys Dene Holm's St Patrick's Day celebrations

Residents of Dene Holm Residential Care Home in Northfleet have been staying positive and still got together to mark St Patrick’s Day and Mother's Day.

General manager Chris Hutchinson said: “As much as we are in the middle of a pandemic, it’s important for us that our residents’ lives continue as normally as possible, so we enjoyed our St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

"It was great fun with plenty of laughs, which is nice to be a part of at a time like this.”

On Mothering Sunday, families came with gifts, flowers, cards and letters to leave for their loved ones.

Some family members phoned their mums and some even spoke on the phone from outside of the window.

Resident, Joan and son talk on the phone at Dene Holm Residential Care Home in Northfleet (32308063)
Resident, Joan and son talk on the phone at Dene Holm Residential Care Home in Northfleet (32308063)

Chris said: “It’s really hard for our residents and relatives at the moment, not being able to see one another, but we are all pulling together to try to keep everything as normal as possible for the residents and everyone is being really understanding.

“Staff pulled out all the stops to ensure residents, in particular the mums, could speak to their loved ones. So, although it wasn’t quite what we would usually have done to celebrate, it was really special and it was lovely to see everyone supporting one another with some real community spirit.”

Read more: Keeping Kent connected during the coronavirus crisis

Read more: All the latest news in Medway


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