Dementia and fun are not normally two words that go well together.
It is a condition that can make life miserable for those suffering – while taking a huge toll on relatives and friends too.
But to help its residents with dementia, a St Annes care home has developed an activity schedule to keep them feeling independent and active – and put a smile back on their faces.
The Knights Care Home, on Clifton Drive Home, started planning the activities following a change of management earlier in the year and it has recently been nominated for a national award.
The Knights manager, Nicola Holmes, joined the care home in February and knew immediately she wanted to start organising activities.
The 35-year-old, from Blackpool, said: “One of the things I did when I first came in was to speak to the residents and their family and friends and the biggest thing they said was there wasn’t enough going on.”
Nicola was soon joined by Kirsten Dean in March who is the care home’s activities co-ordinator and the pair started to come up with ideas and a schedule of activities for the residents.
Nicola added: “We started off doing normal activities and then we started to contact community groups and they started to come in. We contacted Blackpool and the Fylde College and we have had their drama groups come in and we have done life drawings with their art students as well.”
The activities on offer for residents include mini-golf, bingo, regular quizzes and exercise classes.
The care home gets weekly visits from nursery children who come and see the residents, some of whom don’t have any family.
Kirsten, 27, from Marton, also explained how they take the residents out of the care home to special events and how they have helped residents with their dementia. She said: “We took half of the residents recently to watch the ‘Piano In The Park’ concert at Ashton Gardens. It was amazing, three of the residents were in tears.
“I got hold of the guy who organised it and asked if they would come to the care home and when they did all the residents were crying with joy as it took them back to their youth.
“One of the gentleman who suffers quite badly with dementia could recall the singers coming in even weeks after.”
The residents are delighted with the activities on offer.
Ron Broadbent, 84 said: “The activities are very good. For me the biggest enemy is boredom and they sort of take care of that which is important. Each day is very different.”
Ron, who used to work for the Manchester Evening News, added: “My favourite activities are the ones where everyone gets involved, the bingo is good fun. We get to go out a few times but because I’m not good on my feet I need someone to push me about in my wheelchair but I do enjoy getting out.”
Edith Smith, 93 said: “I’m very pleased with the care home, I don’t have any grumbles.
“I like the bingo and the balloon exercises. I can’t do a lot but I enjoy it.”
Edith, who used to be a milk lady in Rotherham, said she wouldn’t go to another care home and says the staff are “amazing”.
June, 82, said: “I’ve been here for two and a half years and I have no complaints. Before Kirsten and Nicola came the place was dead, it’s a lot better now.”
The Knights Care Home has been shortlisted for the ‘Activities Team’ award at the Caring UK Awards 2018 which highlights and pays tribute to the care home teams who make an outstanding contribution to caring for the elderly.
Both Nicola and Kirsten plan to attend the awards bash and admitted they need to buy evening dresses for the special occasion.
The award ceremony will be held in Leicester on December 6.