Day dawns in a Springdene care home and the sun is streaming through the windows of the bright and airy lounge. Outside in the garden the daffodils and hyacinths glow brilliantly, as the morning’s activity begins.
Downstairs in the kitchen, there’s the tinkle of plates and cutlery as breakfast is prepared – which many residents will take in the comfort their rooms at leisurely pace. Others will come to the dining room for a natter, to catch up with the news and to perhaps study the activities programme for the day – in which they are certain to be spoilt for choice over the week.
Will it be the book club or the bake-off? Perhaps a singalong organised by a visiting musician or a scan of the day’s newspapers, led by one of the staff. Maybe you would opt for for the popular “brush and palette” sessions in which residents hone up their art skills with an experienced teacher.
No matter what, there’s an activity for every moment of the day, with different activities for every day of the week. It is no wonder we don’t have a television in our main lounges, Springdene folk have far too much on offer for that. (Though there is a television room for those who prefer, and residents so inclined can opt out of activities as and when they wish.)
But first, after breakfast, it’s time for some gentle exercise. We use a programme specially designed for older people called Oomph!, which involves some gentle stretching to music – many of our residents love it because it gets the endorphins going. This tees us up for something a little more intellectually challenging – perhaps a drama session or a news quiz. (All our activities are designed around the principles of emotional, social and mental stimulation.) Or maybe you simply want to get your hair done by our visiting hairdresser. (A chiropodist visits regularly, too)
By now, we’re feeling peckish, and at 11.45 a welcoming glass of sherry and canapes are served as the aroma of lunch wafts through from the kitchen. Today for starters we can choose between butternut squash soup and egg mayonnise vol-au-vents. On offer for the main course are lamb meatballs in tomato sauce or spinach and ricotta pancakes. There’s buttered leeks and roasted swede as an accompaniment. Or you might prefer an omelette, sandwich or poached fish. Dessert is bread and butter pudding with double cream – or if you prefer, ice cream, fruit salad, cheese and biscuits or jelly.
After that, who would complain if you had a post-lunch nap, before watching a specially chosen Afternoon Film, or doing our famous “Twenty Questions” quiz. You might also fancy our “Sounds Nostalgic” programme in which we play some music from the past and set it in its social and historical context. Or you may wish to share some childhood memories with fellow residents. Or maybe this afternoon there will be a talk from a visiting organisation – we have recently hosted special sessions with talks by experts from the Wallace Collection, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum.
PaintingOne of the joys of being in the community of our care homes is the regular presence of young people. Teatime is enlivened by youngsters doing their Duke of Edinburgh award, who come in and chat with the residents and sometimes play the piano – it is wonderful to see the interplay between the generations. A special highlight is our Spring Grove Music Festival in which young people from local music groups and schools perform in front of professional judges for prizes, and has become a fixture in the north London music calendar. The heats take place on Sundays in January, February and March – and the residents love it.
Nor do you always have to stay at home. Depending on how they are, we encourage everyone who wishes to go out to do so. There’s no reason why you should not get a bit of retail therapy – two of our homes are within walking distance of big shops such as Waitrose or Marks & Spencer. More ambitious outings are planned by a residents’ activities committee, and have included trips to the opera, art galleries, and the seaside. Perhaps predictably one of the most popular outings is to a local pub. And you can have your say in the running of the home, too, through the residents’ committee.
Or you may simply want a gentle stretch of the legs in the garden to work up an appetite for dinner, which tonight is cream of celery soup, followed by poached salmon with new potatoes, sweetcorn and peas or garlic mushrooms on toast. Or perhaps an omelette or a sandwich or poached fish. All followed by a delicious crème caramel.
After a busy day, not surprisingly, many folk start to head for their rooms as dinner concludes. But there are still people around for a chat and maybe finish off a game of Scrabble with one of the carers. Satisfaction is the order of the day.
We like to see every day at a Springdene care home as a special one in which individuals can flourish and live life to the full. But it’s not just about activities. As one our our managers puts it: “It is a lovely, warm, caring community, with staff and residents who get on wonderfully well together. Everybody looks out for each other.”