Fulfilled living in later life

Tuesday 29th November 2022

'Tis the season to be jolly!

Christmas is a special time for our homes and housing schemes. We spoke to some of our staff about what it’s like working with us over the festive period

Pilgrims Friend Wiki at Emmaus House

Wiki, Night Carer at Emmaus House, Harrogate

“As a member of the night team at Emmaus House, I have the very fun job of helping to put up all the decorations at the start of the Christmas season. We do it overnight because it involves lots of climbing on chairs and ladders and it’s easier to do that when everyone is in bed. When our family members wake up and come down the next morning, they have the excitement of seeing the home transformed.

"I often work the night shift on Christmas Day. I start my shift at 8.30pm and it’s a lovely atmosphere to walk into. Everyone has so many stories. Lots of people will have had visits from their family and will wait until they have left before opening their gifts, so I’ll sit and open their gifts with them.

"I’m from Poland where it’s traditional to celebrate Christmas on 24th December. That works out well because I can celebrate at home with my mum the day before. I much prefer the British Christmas dinner to the Polish one where it’s traditional to have fish – I'm not a fan! Something else that I enjoy which we don’t have in Poland is mince pies. When I come in on the night shift, they keep a mince pie for me.”

Mouna, Senior Carer at Milward House, Tunbridge Wells

“At Milward House we always choose a member of staff to dress up as Father Christmas on Christmas Day. I haven’t been asked yet, but I wouldn’t say ‘no’... Father Christmas comes to the lounge and our family members have fun guessing who it is. We have a trolley which we load up with presents. We take this round to the family members and staff dressed up as elves hand them out.

“One year, we had a lady living with us who had dementia who was used to doing a lot for Christmas. As Christmas approached, she kept saying that she needed to help with the preparations so we involved her in making the Christmas cake. She helped to measure out all the ingredients and stir the mixture before we put it in the oven.

“At Christmas, it’s about making everything as fun as possible. We sing carols, dance and play party games. Pass the parcel always goes down well. Lots of people’s relatives come to call, adding to the Christmas cheer.”

Pilgrims Friend Milward House Christmas1 cropped
Pilgrims Friend Dorothea Court Denise Elizabeth

Denise, Cook at Dorothea Court, Bedford

“My daughter Elizabeth and I always celebrate Christmas at Dorothea Court – it is our Christmas. We’re there all day. I’ll make the Christmas dinner, usually for about 18 people. Friends and family of those living here are welcome to join us.

“I always make flower arrangements for the tables. I go out into the garden at Dorothea Court and gather fresh flowers, holly and other greenery. One year we found some tiny pinecones near our house which we collected for the decorations. We also stuck wooden robins to the leaves.

“The thing I love most about Christmas Day at Dorothea Court is the togetherness. For those that live here, it’s a special time when they remember Jesus coming into the world. In the morning we have a little Christmas service in the lounge. Evelyn, the manager, gets everyone a little gift which is put under the tree. We also receive gifts from the charity Home Instead and we give a gift from the staff team as well – chocolates and biscuits that everyone can enjoy.

“Those that live here help to decorate. Pauline has knitted some nativity figures and our maintenance officer set up a wooden box she could use to make a stable scene. For many years we had a retired vicar living with us who had a beautiful wooden nativity set from Kenya which we had in the lounge.”

Elizabeth, Housekeeper at Dorothea Court, Bedford

“I’m arty and currently doing a course in textiles and design. I love making everything look Christmassy. We all come together to decorate the Christmas tree. Every year, I paint the Christmas cake using edible food colouring and brushes – it’s a bit like painting a watercolour. The first year I did a stag, the next year I did the three wise men, the year after I did a snowman with a rabbit hanging off its nose. Last year, I asked those living here to vote and they voted for a robin sitting on a post-box.

“One year, in the run-up to Christmas, my mum and I ran a Christmas gift table. We had animals made from flannels, bowls made from vinyl records, earrings, clocks and potted plants. A top-seller was our knitted snowmen and Christmas puddings, each with a Ferrero Rocher inside. People also really liked some cross-shaped bookmarks decorated with decoupage.

“All the profits from the gift table went towards the activity fund.”

Pilgrims Friend Dorothea Cake1
Pilgrims Friend Dorothea Cake2
Pilgrims Friend Dorothea Cake3

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