Original article from Kent Live
The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the hard work of care home workers across the country.
With elderly residents unable to see their loved ones and feeling cooped up inside, staff have had to go above and beyond to keep them safe and smiling.
Through the tough times, care homes have had to show initiative to think up new ideas and have had to find ways to keep residents in contact with family.
KentLive casts an eye over some of the fun and unique ways that care homes have kept elderly residents entertained during the lockdown.
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Spending some downtime with reborn dolls
At Parkview in Bexleyheath, residents have been interacting with reborn dolls.
The project allows residents to spend some downtime with the dolls and has proven benefits for bringing calmness to those living with dementia.
A reborn doll is a manufactured doll that has been transformed by an artist to resemble a human infant with as much realism as possible.
Denise and Annette Kelly, Activities Coordinator, plan regular visits with the dolls as they have proved a popular activity with some of the residents at the home.
Annette said, ‘Since the very first visit some residents have taken a shine towards them and look forward to holding the dolls and pushing the prams.
"We always explain the dolls are not real but as soon as we hand the dolls over, residents cradle the doll in their arms as if it’s real.
"One lady called Mary will often sing to the dolls whilst another lady enjoys pushing a doll in a pram around the grounds of the home."
Stress relief through art therapy
Halliwell Care Home in Tunbridge Wells has a thriving Art Group that love getting stuck in with a ran of projects.
The care home has seen the sessions' popularity treble during the pandemic as residents find the scheme calming.
Pictures of the talented resident's artwork featuring colourful fruits and vegetable were shared online.
The Art Group has been such a success that a Creative Writing Group has also been created to follow in its footsteps.
Julie, Social Engagement and Relationship Manager said: "Working to a theme, residents are given free rein to express themselves using a profusion of colours.
"Residents become ‘lost’ in their creations as they enter a world free from anxieties and where a warm sense of wellbeing is imbued."
Fun and games to celebrate Cinco de Mayo
Lockdown has coincided with plenty of British holidays this year including Easter and St. George's Day.
In Herne Bay at Barchester Healthcare, residents were taken on a virtual trip further afield to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
The care home became a Hispanic festival for the day.
Residents had a go at attacking a pinata in celebration and were treated to tacos at lunch.
Getting green-fingered at gardening club
When National Gardening Week came to Invicta Court Care Home, the gardening club was ready to celebrate.
Residents were accompanied into the garden for a day of digging and planting.
Jacqui Pompeus, Home Manager at Invicta Court said: “We’re thrilled to have launched our gardening club here at Invicta Court.
“Some of the residents have a life-long passion for gardening, but we also have residents who have only discovered their green fingers since moving into the care home – all abilities are welcome in our club, and everyone enjoys getting stuck in and learning from each other.
"Gardening has many therapeutic benefits for older people, especially those living with dementia, encouraging physical activity and also time spent outdoors, which can help to lower stress and anxiety levels.
"Gardening can also give older people a sense of purpose and help to stimulate happy memories.
“We are all very excited to see our plants begin to blossom and brighten up the garden in the coming months.”
A birthday visit to the horses
At Lavender Fields Care Home in Sevenoaks, birthdays were still a major event in lockdown.
For one resident's birthday, a trip to the horses opposite the home and an afternoon of skittles were on the cards.
A spokesperson for the home said: "Residents at Lavender Fields feel so lucky to live right opposite these lovely animals.
"Being around these incredibly friendly horses always brightens their day and being out in the fresh air and (hopefully) sunshine does wonders for everybody’s wellbeing."
Sporting Easter crowns for the holiday's festivities
At Monfort Manor in Ashford, Easter brought a range of activities.
The home shared snaps of residents beaming with bunny ears on their social media account as the Easter party began.
Cheryl Shorter, Home Manager at Montfort Manor, said: “Easter is a very special time of the year here at Montfort Manor, and many residents have lovely memories of celebrating Easter in their younger years.
"As such, our Easter party was a fantastic opportunity to encourage residents to reminisce – everyone got chatting about Easter bonnet competitions from school days, egg hunts with their children, and grandchildren, and happy family time spent together.
“The team and residents all enjoyed donning Easter crowns and bunny ears for the egg-cellent afternoon of sweet treats and fun.”
Getting artsy at craft club
In Tunbridge Wells, there's a craft club that runs at Chamberlain Court Care Home.
Residents meet regularly to build trinkets for their rooms and the garden.
Recently it was bird feeders that grabbed their attention.
Resident Anne Witt, pictured said “I enjoy making things that are useful. If I was a bird, I would be attracted to this lovely little feeder.”
Suzanne Goodman, Lifestyles Lead said “The residents attending the group changes each session depending on what we are doing.
"In the past, we have decorated some beautiful picture frames, created mosaic coasters and made trinket boxes.”