CHRISTMAS came early to Springdene this week with compliments of the season all round. The Christmas lights were switched on at the front of Springview and there was some hearty singing, with carols from the Salvation Army band.
It was a moment of sheer magic when our oldest resident, Gladys Gathergood, aged 108, joined in (see picture above). To stave off the cold of the chilly December afternoon there was hot punch, mince pies and doughnuts for everyone. Even more delightfully, a fire was lit and marshmallows toasted in the flames. The aroma of wood smoke and marshmallow was so evocative! There was a huge round of applause when the lights were illuminated and a snow machine sent flakes tumbling from above.
In the spirit of ecumenism candles were lit to celebrate the Jewish season of Chanukah – the Festival of Lights. Everyone agreed it was a wonderful occasion, with Tidings of Comfort and Joy for all our residents and staff. And there will be a cornucopia of celebrations to follow over the next few weeks at all three homes.
While on the subject of Christmas, several of you have asked about visiting arrangements over the Festive Season. The answer is that we are open for visiting all over the holidays, but please do book early to get the best slots. As usual, visits will be on a rota system, and according to government rules, access will need to be in the visiting room, rather than in residents’ own rooms. With the new Omicron strain of Covid threatening us, we cannot be too careful.
You can, of course, take Mum or Dad out for lunch, but remember you will have to take a Covid test first. You will also need to let us know of your plans well in advance. But maybe your loved ones would like to stay in – our chefs are preparing a splendid Christmas repast with all the trimmings. (There won’t be any visiting between 12 and 3 on Christmas Day while lunch is prepared and served.)
Of course, celebrations at Springdene are not just about Christmas. We’ve had a couple of marvellous parties over the past month to mark the birthdays of two of our centenarians. Mrs Dorothy Quill was 101, and Lori, our manager at Spring Lane, organised a magnificent cake with a splendid bouquet of flowers and arranged a sparkling toast with a glasses of prosecco all round. Meanwhile, Madge Ewart attained her century in style, with Lori doing her proud also.
We’re pleased to announce a new addition to our activities team, welcoming the arrival of Ashley Mizen at Springview. Ashley has a wealth of experience from his previous life in the Armed Forces and is a fantastic all-rounder. He joins his skills with those of the existing team, Magda, Odile, Steve and Malwiina, who have been keeping everyone fabulously entertained
It’s good to hear how much you appreciate their work and that of our carers. For instance, family member Elizabeth Roberts writes: My mother has been a resident at Spring Lane since 2014, and her increasing needs as her dementia has progressed have been met incredibly well. She loves her carers, who treat her with respect, compassion and warmth.
“The activities programme is extensive, engaging and varied, food is really good, and rooms are comfortable, clean and well maintained. The staff and management deserve much praise and appreciation for their dedication, heroism and hard work during the pandemic, keeping residents safe and happy, and relatives informed about their well-being. I would highly recommend Spring Lane.”
Indeed, we owe a huge amount to our wonderful staff, who are at the heart of our operations at Springdene. As you will know, they are caring, loyal, diligent and kind, having worked selflessly during the Covid pandemic. Many of them have been with us for several years.
However, as you’ll have seen in the media, the labour market in the care sector is extremely difficult. Now, in order to ensure we retain our existing staff and recruit the best new people, we have made the decision to increase our pay rates.
In the New Year we are raising our rates for everyone to accord with the London Living Wage. We believe that as a responsible company and a good employer, this is the right thing to do. The London Living Wage is calculated independently to reflect the higher cost of living in the capital, giving a worker in London and their family enough to afford the essentials and to save. It is voluntary and not required by law, but represents best practice.
This means that we will have to raise our rates for residents, too. Unfortunately, there are other increases in costs that we are facing. As you know, domestic fuel prices have rocketed. In addition, Covid-19 has meant increases of up to 60 per cent in our insurance bills. And from next April, we have to fund the government’s “Health and Social Care Levy” on National Insurance of 1.25 per cent.
The upshot is that it is necessary to increase our resident rates by 8.5 per cent. By now all of you should have received a personal letter to this effect. Rest assured that we will continue to work hard to keep costs down in these difficult times, and to this end, our directors are not taking any increase in their own salaries.
If you have any comments on the above, please get in touch with our CEO Michael Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will do his best to answer any concerns.
On a different note, we thought you might like to hear about the progress of our adopted puppy, Spring, who thanks to your generosity, is being trained to become a Medical Detection Dog, able to sniff out conditions such as Covid, cancer and diabetes. Spring is now six months old and will soon be allocated his red “in training” coat. It’s a proud day for him! He lives with Helen and her family in Milton Keynes – the setting for the start of his journey to becoming a fully-fledged life-saving dog.
Spring is a very bright boy and has a cheeky and fun personality. He has been able to meet with fellow dogs in training and has been regularly at puppy classes. Alongside the hard work of his trainer, Loren, this means that he now has a good level of basic obedience and has been learning new life skills.
Early socialisation is a key part of any dog’s training programme and Spring has been round the local area, visiting garden centres and shops. He receives a lot of admiring glances from members of the public.
At the moment, Spring’s biggest distraction is other dogs, and his trainers have been working hard on his behaviour around them. He is also practising walking nicely on the lead in a variety of different places. He will be getting lots of support and guidance in these areas with Loren as well as his socialisers.
Spring is Helen’s third dog in training for Medical Detection Dogs and she is really enjoying having him around the house. He can usually be found playing in the garden and he loves fuss and attention.
Everyone is pleased with Spring’s early progress – and thanks again to Springdene families for their support. We’ll bring you another update soon on the pup’s progress.
Lastly, we’d like to commend to you our exciting new website. Bright and modern with specially-taken new pictures, this is the gateway to Springdene and tells you everything you need to know about us. We think you will especially enjoy the videos of interviews with your loved ones. The website can be found at www.springdene.co.uk
It will also link you to our social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which bring you more news and pictures in addition to this newsletter. It will be great if you can “like” and “follow” us on our social media platforms. See you on board!