Sunny smiles on a rainy day

14 July 2017

Our residents enjoying their trip

When inclement weather scuppered a seaside trip out for a group of our Holy Cross Nursing Home residents, spirits weren't dampened at all and an alternative venue with a watery outlook was quickly arranged.

The group were delighted when they were able to visit Sunderland's National Glass Centre where they enjoyed stunning views of the river and Royal Navy flagship, HMS Ocean; although they were saddened to learn the ship was soon to be scrapped.

Exploring the centre led them to a glass-making demonstration and they were fascinated to watch a member of staff creating a beautiful glass stag ornament. Then it was off to the shop to buy a few souvenirs and gifts before taking a well-deserved rest with a cuppa in the café.

"It was shame about the weather, but no-one seemed to mind the last-minute change of plans," said Holy Cross Activities Co-ordinator, Kayleigh Duddin. "Everyone had a brilliant time with lots of interesting experiences, especially being among the last to see HMS Ocean afloat. We still have our seaside trip to look forward to when the weather improves, too."

PAT dog, Bert, gets the warmest of welcomes

12 July 2017

Residents with PAT dog, Bert

It was clearly puppy love at first sight when four-legged visitor, Bert, met residents at our St Catherine's Nursing Home.

The registered PAT dog brought the biggest smiles to our residents' faces and delighted them with his cute and friendly character, but he was richly rewarded with plenty of stroking and pampering in return.

The cute canine melted everyone's hearts and sparked many happy memories – and shaggy dog stories - of bygone pets and their exploits.

"I remember the dog we had when I was a girl," said resident, Win Taylor. "He used to go everywhere with my mum, but during the war when we had to queue for rations, he often used to catch the bus home on his own because he got bored waiting. I don't know to this day how he knew which stop to get off at."

After spending time being adored by the large group of our residents who had gathered in the home's spacious lounge to spend time with him, Bert was still eager for more as he trotted off to pay a special visit to some of those unable to leave their rooms.

Bert's busy day may have left him dog tired, but our residents are definitely begging for a return visit.

Friends reunited

3 July 2017

St Catherine's resident Harry with friend Peter

St Catherine's resident, Harry Day, got a pleasant surprise when an old friend dropped in to see him a couple of days ago.

Peter Davis had heard that Harry had moved into a care home in Newcastle, but didn't know which one. After some determined detective work he finally discovered that his old pal was only a short bus ride away.

Harry (pictured left) and Peter were part of a group of four or five friends who used to get together at Newcastle's Blucher Club and who often went on bus trips together, so there was plenty to reminisce about.

“Peter's only a youngster”, says Harry, “I'm 90, but he's only 89”

Harry himself has had a fascinating life – narrowly missing becoming a celebrity. Although working for over 35 years as a motor mechanic, he was also a comedian and singer and made several appearances on BBC radio during the 1940s. While serving in the army he was refused leave to go to Manchester to audition for a part in a production of A J Cronin's “The Stars Look Down”, which could have been his big break.

He's very philosophical about it though. “If my Commanding Officer had given permission for me to go, who knows where I would be today?” he says, “but, there you go.”

National Care Home Open Day

14 June 2017

Nursing home residents with staff

Staff and residents at St Catherine's Nursing Home in Newcastle and Holy Cross Nursing Home in Sunderland are extending a warm welcome to visitors this Friday, 16 June, as they invite everyone to join them for their National Care Home Open Day events.

The annual taster day aims to let visitors see for themselves how enjoyable life is in our nursing homes and to cultivate closer links between local people and the homes that sit in the heart of their communities.

Visitors will have the opportunity to take a tour of our homes, grounds and gardens with our staff and home managers who will be happy to answer any questions about living in our residential care homes.

They will also be able to see some of our residents showcase their talents as they take part in their 'activity of the day', then join them for some relaxing refreshments and entertainment in the afternoon.

"We'd like to invite people to pop in for a while, or enjoy a longer visit, if they wish," said our Family Liaison Manager, Joanne Bulford, who plays a key role in helping new residents settle into their new home. "It's an ideal opportunity to see our homes first hand."

Our National Care Open Day events run from 10am until 4pm and further information on the event or the quality care on offer at our homes is available from: Anne Tonge, Manager of St Catherine's Nursing Home, Newcastle on 0191 2452400 or Julie Thompson, Manager of Holy Cross Nursing home in Sunderland on 0191 5670862.

Special week of activities to stimulate the senses

22 May 2017

A selection of photos from our special week

Organised activities at our two nursing homes have been packed with a variety of things to stimulate the senses and residents have thoroughly enjoyed the experiences.

Our activity co-ordinators at Holy Cross in Sunderland and St Catherine's in Newcastle pulled out all the stops to create some fascinating events and activities to mark Dementia Awareness Week, as our selection of pictures shows.

Residents enjoyed the fragrance of flowers with a trip to a garden centre; a visiting singer who performed wartime songs, reminiscence quizzes to evoke memories and some soothing pamper sessions.

A mysterious 'what's in the box' game proved to be a great source of fun and involved residents reaching into a box to touch hidden items such as jelly, cotton wool, grains of rice and a peeled orange.

"Just about everyone guessed the items correctly, but it was a great conversation starter and there was lots of laughter," said Holy Cross Activity Co-ordinator, Kayleigh Duddin.

The special week at St Catherine's was rounded off in story-book fashion with their entire lounge transformed into Alice in Wonderland's famous tea party. 'Eat me' and 'drink me' labels adorned the party food, there were 'grass' place mats, heart-shaped pastries and sandwiches and lots of playing card decorations.

"It all looked so beautiful it was a shame to eat any of it," said resident, Dorothy Barrow.

Dementia Awareness Week 14-20 May

15 May 2017

Some of the items featuring in our events

Our nursing homes in Newcastle and Sunderland – St Catherine's and Holy Cross - have a packed schedule of specially arranged activities lined up for residents to mark Dementia Awareness Week.

A selection of sounds, smells, textures, tastes and interesting things to see will feature in each day's activities, providing a sensory experience for everyone to enjoy.

"I'm not giving anything away, but one of our activities will feature jelly, cotton wool and sugar crystals," said Kayleigh Duddin, Activities Coordinator for Holy Cross.

Meanwhile, a mixture of artificial turf, heart-shaped sandwiches and china teacups are busily being prepared for a special activity at St Catherine's.

"I'm really excited about our sensory events," said St Catherine's Activity Co-ordinator, Sarah Avery. "I think our residents are going to love seeing how all these random items are going to come together."

We'll bring you some updates from the activities held throughout the week, so watch our website for all the latest news.

A sweet taste of summer

11 May 2017

St Catherine's enjoy chocolate day

When the sun finally began to shine this week, residents from our St Catherine's Nursing Home couldn't wait to take in a bit of basking in their courtyard garden - and their time was made even more special with a little taste of luxury, too.

Declaring their very own chocolate day, everyone sampled a selection of white, dark or milk chocolate, stylishly served from a tiered plate, and juicy strawberries that they could dip in melted chocolate, too.

The pleasant morning event was wrapped up with uplifting songs and hymns before plans were made for a 'baking with chocolate' session in the afternoon.

After lunch, our residents reconvened in the spacious lounge where they thoroughly enjoyed exploring their creative side, making delicious white chocolate crispy cakes beautifully decorated with chocolate hearts and 'hundreds and thousands'.

"We've had a very luxurious day," said St Catherine's Activity Co-ordinator, Sarah Avery. "Everyone has felt properly pampered – and well deserved it was, too!"

Residents bring a splash of spring colour to St Catherine's

28 April 2017

Creative flower arranging at St Catherine's

The weather outside may have been frightful, but, thanks to our residents' handiwork, spring has definitely sprung indoors at St Catherine's Nursing Home in Newcastle.

Despite the chill air, our home has been filled with brightly coloured flower arrangements, all carefully crafted with silk blooms by members of St Catherine's gardening group.

From a table filled with ferns, flowers, butterflies and feathers, our residents have used their creative talents to craft their own decorative, floral designs. Now window sills and tables around the home are dotted with cheerful spring colour.

Flower craft is one of resident, David Landridge's favourite pastimes and he was thrilled to be able to share his interest – and his floral collection - with the gardening group as well as lots of tips and hints on how to create the perfect arrangement.

Another resident thoroughly enjoying the experience was Win Taylor. "This has been wonderful," said Win. "I used to attend flower arranging classes, so it's been lovely to be involved again. I'm rather proud of the result!"

St Catherine's gardening group meets regularly and members are hoping the weather improves soon so they can start sowing seeds and planting outside.

Packed schedule delights our residents

12 April 2017

Two of our residents enjoying the entertainment

Evenings have been packed with entertainment for residents at our Holy Cross Nursing Home in Sunderland.

First up was a delicious cheese and wine evening where everyone enjoyed tasting a variety of cheeses and wines from around the world and sharing their opinions. The evening continued with songs and dancing and some residents put their talents on show by playing a few musical instruments themselves.

Music featured in their coffee and cake evening, too, but was somewhat overshadowed by the delicacies on offer.

"Our residents loved ordering their cappuccinos and lattes then selecting from the variety of cakes on offer," said activities co-ordinator, Kayleigh Duddin. "Popular opinion made the strawberry cream cake a clear winner and I was so pleased when one of our residents voted my cappuccino as the best he'd ever tasted!"

The main focus returned to music and singing when the ever-popular Kayleigh Cares visited with her selection of old-time classics such as Rock Around the Clock and Bless 'Em All.

"We've all had a fantastic time being entertained and joining in," said Kayleigh. "There's just time to catch our breath before our next session."

Flipping lovely pancakes!

1 March 2017

Pancake Day at St Catherine's and at the Alan Shearer Centre

Did you make pancakes yesterday and if so, do you know why?

In the past, Shrove Tuesday was your last chance to enjoy yourself before the start of Lent - and forty days of fasting. Families would clear out their cupboards and eat things like eggs, milk and sugar so they wouldn't be tempted by them. Many parts of the world hold Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday) festivals for the same reason.

The tradition of mixing them up for pancakes is thought to come from a pagan ritual, but others say it is a Christian tradition - with the ingredients representing four pillars of the faith: eggs for creation, flour sustenance or the staff of life, salt for wholesomeness and milk for purity.

Whatever the explanation, pancakes were top of the menu at two of our services yesterday. Residents of our St Catherine's Nursing Home certainly enjoyed the pancakes the home's kitchen staff made for them. Served with sugar and lemon, maple syrup or chocolate spread, they were a flipping lovely alternative to biscuits with afternoon tea!

Meanwhile at our Alan Shearer Centre, Recreation Assistant, Jan Rootham, helped members to make their own (and even to toss some successfully) before they got down to work on their new spring-themed mural for the centre.