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.

Ash Wednesday Masses celebrated in our nursing homes

1 March 2017

Receiving ashes at Mass in St Catherine's Nursing Home

Have you noticed anyone with ash on their forehead today? Maybe you've been to Mass yourself to get your ashes?

To mark the start of Lent both of our nursing homes, St Catherine's in Newcastle and Holy Cross in Sunderland, held the traditional Ash Wednesday service in their chapels, giving residents the opportunity to receive their ashes.

The ashes are actually produced by burning the palm crosses made for Palm Sunday the previous year and the cross on the foreheads of churchgoers symbolises repentance for sin.

Mainly a Catholic feast, Lent and Ash Wednesday are also celebrated by a number of Protestant denominations. St Catherine's and Holy Cross, though founded in the Catholic faith, are home to people of all denominations and none, so everyone was welcome at the Masses.

As well as the familiar idea of “giving something up for Lent”, many people choose this time to do something more positive, such as volunteering for a charity. St Cuthberts Care is always happy to hear from anyone who is interested in giving some of their time to help with our work. If you would like to find out about our volunteering opportunities, please contact our Volunteer Co-ordinator, Nicola Milne on 0191 228 0111, or email nicola.milne@stcuthbertscare.org.uk.

Paws for thought

22 February 2017

St Catherine's resident petting a puppy

Our St Catherine's Nursing Home is now home sweet home to some very well behaved puppies.

The pups, each in their own basket, are more than just cuddly toys for our residents. The lifelike pets “breathe” like real sleeping puppies and were added to the home's collection of sensory and tactile items for the list of benefits they can offer to our residents. It has been known for some time now that stroking a soft, furry pet can have positive physical and emotional effects and even a realistic substitute can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression.

Family Liaison Manager for our nursing homes, Joanne Bulford, said the pups were an instant hit.

“We have a Spaniel, a Beagle and a Black Labrador,” said Joanne. “Some of our residents have become very attached to them and they've produced lots of smiles and evoked memories of their own pets from the past.
Choosing their names has become quite a talking point, too, which has been an added bonus.”

Our residents are just nuts about birdwatching

27 January 2017

St Catherine's residents making bird feeders

It's all eyes on the garden this weekend at our St Catherine's nursing home in Newcastle, when residents join in the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.

The birdwatch, between 28 and 30 January, helps build a picture of garden wildlife across the UK and, last year, more than half a million people took part.

The home, which boasts not only a large sheltered garden with trees, shrubs and raised beds, but also a small courtyard with potted plants and shrubs, attracts a variety of birds. Staff and residents always keep the bird feeders well stocked, but they have made some extra treats especially for this weekend.

Claire Graham, manager of our Parkhead Resource Centre for adults with learning disabilities in Ashington, popped in to lend a hand, stringing peanuts onto strips of ribbon. The birds will have to do a little work to open the shells to get to the nuts, but that will give everyone more time to enjoy watching them.

Pat still feels nifty at 90

20 January 2017

Pat sharing her birthday celebrations

Cake, candles and a chorus of 'happy birthday' were all part of a surprise 90th birthday tea party arranged for one of our nursing home residents.

Nonagenarian, Pat, who lives in our St Catherine's Nursing Home in Newcastle, was delighted with all the cards and gifts she received from relatives, friends and staff and was especially taken with a huge birthday balloon emblazoned with the number '90'.

"Pat loved the balloon, but said she didn't feel she was 90," said Operations Manager, Lesley Oliver. "She insisted we had put the wrong age on it and told us she felt more like 25!"

Staff, carers, managers and fellow residents all gathered in the home's spacious lounge to join in with the celebration tea and sang 'happy birthday' while Pat blew out the candles on her cake. Then it was treats for everyone as the delicious cake was shared out with a well-deserved cuppa.