Fulfilled living in later life

Thursday 22nd February 2024

A place for everyone...

Our The Way We Care Lead Kriszti shares how personalised placemats are transforming mealtimes for family members at Milward House, our care home in Tunbridge Wells

“During mealtimes, I noticed that family members weren’t communicating with each other very much, and our staff team wouldn’t always know how to start a conversation.

“I had the idea of creating a special placemat for each person that could act as a talking point. I asked our family members and staff what they thought and everyone really liked the idea. I then went round asking each person what pictures they would like on their placemat, and for a favourite Bible verse.

“This led to some very interesting chats, and I got to know the family members even better than before, sometimes at quite a deep level. For example, Deryl chose to have a verse from 2 Timothy on her placemat and shared with me how she’d had a son called Timothy who had passed away. She chose to have a picture with brilliant sunshine to symbolise God and how Timothy is now with the Lord.

“Previously, I’d learnt that Deryl had a son who died from reading her life history (something we collect when all our family members come to us). I’d seen a photo of him in her bedroom but when I tried to talk to her about him I could tell it was a difficult conversation and so we left it. Having the placemat gives her the opportunity to remember Timothy in a positive way. Hers is a very uplifting placement, with a picture of some daffodils, which I learned are her favourite flower, and a piano which she loves to play.

Pilgrims Friend Milward House Placemat Ann

“Now, in the dining room, there’s a lot more interaction at mealtimes, both between staff and family members, and between family members themselves.

“Ann loves to talk to everyone about her placemat. She has chosen the verse 1 Samuel 7:12 where Samuel sets up the Ebenezer stone and says, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us’. She has also chosen a picture of a road with some crossroads and she likes to ask people about the crossroads they have experienced in their lives and how God has helped them through.

“Ann sits on a table with Evelyn and in turn Eveyln will respond by talking about her placemat which features a picture of a rainbow as well as the words ‘God has not promised skies always blue.’ These words are from one of Evelyn’s favourite hymns, which we sometimes sing in our devotions times.


“Anthea’s placemat features words from Psalm 23 and a picture of Jesus as the Good Shepherd with sheep. This reminds her of her time as a missionary in Peru and how the Lord guided her. This led to conversations with Evelyn who was involved with missionary work in Bolivia.

Pilgrims Friend Milward House Placemat Anthea
Pilgrims Friend Milward House Placemat Margaret
Pilgrims Friend Milward House Placemat 2

“Picture-based memory aids are beneficial for people living with dementia and the placemats help family members remember where to sit, meaning they feel secure and comfortable.

“Usually, I ask some family members to help me set up the tables in the dining room before lunch. They help me to put the placemats in the right places on the tables. It’s a good memory exercise for them and is a lovely way for them to contribute to the life of the home.

“The family members tell me that they like their placemats and they find it special to share their memories, favourite pictures and Bible quotes with the staff members and other family members.

“I see how the person-centred placemats have improved the dining experience and bring our family members bring joy every day.”

Pilgrims Friend Milward House Placemat Pam
Pilgrims Friend Milward House Placemat Esther
Pilgrims Friend Milward House Placemat Corah

The Way We Care is our bespoke approach to caring for those who live with us in a warm and friendly Christian environment which places people at its heart. Each home employs a The Way We Care Lead who oversees this approach, responding to the needs they see in their community, as Kristzi has done here. Find out more on The Way We Care hub.

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