National Care Home Open Day
National Care Home Open Day is an initiative that sees care homes across the UK open their doors to their local communities. Read reflections from our team.
This year, it coincided with the national Big Lunch and Great Get Together initiatives and aimed to positively connect communities and bring neighbours together.
Emily and Dan visited Peartree Care Centre in Sydenham, South London
Emily: “When we arrived we were met by friendly and welcoming staff, who made a fuss of us. They invited us to join the residents’ vintage tea party. I met Joyce, a retired dressmaker from Peckham, and three friends: Olive, Barbara and Beryl. We spent time talking to each other and, because it was so hot, making fans from paper napkins!”
Dan: “Olive was great. She’d worked in biscuit factories, checking the quality of the bake – overbaked biscuits are prone to cracking apparently – because she had ‘a good eye’, and after that she worked in a daycare centre for people with dementia for many years. She’s 90 and had had a stroke, which had left her without much movement on her left side, but she was happy to still have her memory and speech. She looked much younger, about 80 – she said she didn’t know how old she felt, and couldn’t tell if she felt 100, because she hadn’t ever been that old. She still felt like the same person, saying: ‘why should I be any different just because I’m older?’”
Sarah visited Rosedale Care Home, Luton
“My 3-year-old son and I enjoyed our visit to Rosedale Care Home. I talked to a woman called Peggy about the music and what songs she liked – and didn’t! And about the singer, and how attractive he was. I talked to two friends who were sisters-in-law and chatted about where they’d lived and when their husband/brother had recently died. It appeared that all the other people visiting were family members of the residents, although they were very welcoming and had advertised that it was an open day. I unfortunately was leaving just as the sherry was being brought out!”
Aideen visited Kew House Care home, Wimbledon
“The manager told me that one huge change over recent years has been the number of centenarians – they currently have 4 people aged over 100 (out of a total of about 60) and that is many more than she would have seen some years ago. Moreover, they are living with a good quality of life."
“I met Eileen who was 104, waiting to go to Moorfields Hospital for an appointment. She couldn’t remember if she had been there 2 years or 3, as she said she had had a rather boozy lunch at the Open Day barbecue!
Leslie, Nicola and Luke visited Muriel Street Care Home, Islington
Leslie: “We met 87-year-old Margaret, who has senile dementia. Her family were visiting and we joined in with the singing.”
Nicola: “It was quite difficult at first to really engage with residents as I’d not visited a Care Home in this way before – I didn’t know what to expect. However, we got stuck in with a colouring activity and got chatting to Margaret and her family. This helped break the ice, and we had a really lovely afternoon.”
Luke: “I also found it quite difficult at first; having a conversation with someone who has senile dementia is not something I am used to. The staff were very welcoming and encouraged us to join in – we did some colouring and gave a quote for their Hawaiian Turtle display.”
Ellie and Catherine visited Greville House Care Home, Richmond
Ellie: “When I arrived, the staff were keen for me to help get the residents dancing to the music – they had maracas and tambourines to play. Just after lunch was served the chef came out and started to dance to Zorba the Greek (he was very Greek), which was a lot of fun. You could see the residents really enjoying this spontaneous entertainment!
“I spent time talking to residents: Sheila – loves Italian food. Was a keen traveller when she was younger, although now has restricted mobility as she has had a hip replacement. Jeanette – had a lovely chat about the garden, especially the roses. She was enjoying the selection of cakes and admiring the staff members’ costumes.”
Catherine: “There were quite a few family members visiting – I think we were the only visitors who weren’t family. The staff were pleased that we’d come to join their garden party, and encouraged us to speak to as many residents as possible.”
Helen and Rachael visited Norton House Care Home, Westminster
Helen: “I visit this Care Home regularly, for their Cocktails in Care Homes parties. It was great to join their Open Day too! I chatted to residents, care home staff, and visiting friends, family and volunteers. Rachael and I helped run the quiz, and joined in the big ‘sing-song’. Two talented singers treated us to an amazing rendition of Elvis songs.”
Rachael: “Two things struck me immediately: One, how fantastically multicultural the home was, both staff and residents were from all over the world; Two, the strong friendships that came through were between staff members and residents. It was clear both enjoyed each other’s company and there was a lot of respect between them, but most importantly there was fun.
About National Care Home Open Day
National Care Home Open Day is a brilliant opportunity to meet and connect with people in later years in your community and learn more about the experiences of people living in care homes. Visit the Care Home Open Day website for more information.