A Message from Canon Spence

2 April 2020

Canon Spence

I'm a resident at Holy Cross in Sunderland. Friends find it amusing that I'm now living near the Stadium of Light when I've spent so much of my early life at St James' Park! But I feel very much at home here.

We're all very well looked after here, although we're, like many of you, missing our families and friends.

I enjoy walking in our lovely garden and saying a prayer at our Lourdes grotto. Looking at the statue of Mary, this is the sort of prayer I would say:

“Mary, mother of Jesus, ask him to look after us, our families and friends and all the generous people who are caring for us.

Mary, we ask you to smile on all the terrific people who are being so unselfish in these hard and puzzling times. Please ask Jesus your son to be as caring to all of us as you were to him when he was a young lad growing up in the north of your country.”

Continuing my walk in the garden, I pray “Jesus, help us to keep cheering one another up!”

I'm off now to watch Judy Garland in ‘Meet me in St Louis' over a cup of tea and cake in the comfortable residents lounge. I will continue to prayer for you all.

Take care

Fr Bob

Our uplifting rainbows of hope

31 March 2020

Rainbow prayers

Residents and staff at our Holy Cross nursing home in Sunderland have made special symbols of hope to decorate their home.

As the pandemic continues, colourful rainbows and prayer hands have been added to the home's windows and notice boards and prayers and songs are being dedicated to everyone around the world enduring these worrying times.

The rainbows, carrying the uplifting message: ‘watch for the rainbow', are clearly visible from outside the home.

“Posting the rainbows in our windows means everyone passing the home can enjoy them and know that we are all in this together,” said the home's Activities Co-ordinator, Vicky. “We hope they will bring a smile to everyone who sees them, especially in these difficult times.”

St Patrick’s Day celebrations

18 March 2020

St Patrick's Day fun

Residents in our nursing homes in Newcastle and Sunderland made the most of St Patrick's Day with a packed calendar of activities.

Our Holy Cross home in Sunderland held an Irish Pub Quiz covering topics from general knowledge to identifying photos of pubs and bars, with lots of friendly competition between the teams.

A delicious assortment of good food was enjoyed at both homes, including traditional Irish soda bread and Irish stew - and no St Patrick's Day would be complete without a little taste of Guinness, too.

Irish songs completed the line-up, with memories flooding back during a sing-along featuring popular tunes such as Danny Boy and Sweet Molly Malone.

It was another day of fun and laughter, much of it reserved for Holy Cross activities co-ordinator, Vicky, who delighted everyone with her Leprechaun outfit.

Residents recall their past with fun and laughter

17 March 2020

Resident enjoying memory game with staff

Residents at our Holy Cross Nursing Home in Sunderland have enjoyed sharing their memories and re-visiting some favourite childhood pastimes.

Stories flowed in the popular reminiscence session as everyone recalled some of their favourite times – from school days, to receiving special gifts from special loved ones.

There was plenty of laughter, too, when our residents swapped tales of their childhood phobias.

“Maureen remembered being scared of spiders,” said the home's Activities Co-ordinator, Vicky, “so when I mentioned I'd once had a pet tarantula, it didn't really impress anyone!”

The afternoon wrapped up with our residents enjoying a memory game challenge that many remembered from their childhood. After being shown a collection of items on a tray, some items were secretly removed and the task was set to remember what was missing.

The game was a huge hit and drew plenty of fond comments about simpler times.

Amazing adventures with virtual reality

2 March 2020

Our residents enjoy virtual reality

Wow! Fantastic! Beautiful! Incredible! These were just some of the expressions from our St Catherine's Nursing Home residents as they shared in their first virtual reality experience.

Wearing the special headsets and guided by our home's activities co-ordinator, Zaeley, our residents were able to get close to a herd of elephants, watch waves break on the shore and enjoy seeing the world through the eyes of a soaring eagle.

The 360 degree view and real life sounds gave a truly immersive experience and everyone responded with looks of amazement and surprised laughter.

Now that our residents have had a gentle taste of the virtual reality experience, quite a few can't wait to try a rollercoaster ride or a parachute jump from an aeroplane

Memories rekindled at museum cottage

19 February 2020

The trip to Orchard Cottage

Residents from our Holy Cross nursing home in Sunderland became time travellers as they enjoyed one of the region's best-loved tourist attractions.

Stepping into Orchard Cottage at Beamish Open Air Museum, our residents were immediately transported back to the 1940's when they were children or young women.

Memories came flooding back as everyone sat around the kitchen table, chatting about their childhood and their families.

It was all about re-living experiences, too.

With bread expertly placed on a special toasting fork, more stories were shared as they toasted bread on the open coal fire then spread the slices with greengage preserve to enjoy with a cup of tea.

Staying in the bygone era, they washed their cups in a bowl of soapy water and dried them with tea towels, laughing at how a woman's work is never done.

More memories were recalled as they were shown a variety of household items such as curling irons, hair clippers and darning mushrooms.

The whole afternoon was rounded off with a rousing sing-song around the piano.

“Everyone had a fantastic time remembering the past,” said Holy Cross Activities' Coordinator, Vicky. “It was fascinating to see what life was like in those days and to hear about it first hand from our residents. They really seemed to enjoy seeing the look of disbelief on our faces at some of the stories, too!”

Love is all around

14 February 2020

Valentine celebrations

Our services are bustling with pampering preparations and filled with hearts, flowers and tempting treats as celebrations get underway to mark the romance of February 14th.

Residents in our nursing homes – St Catherine's in Newcastle and Holy Cross in Sunderland – are spending time with our staff and each other reminiscing about how they met their wives and husbands.

And the treats on offer are as sweet as the stories everyone has been swapping with a beautifully presented afternoon tea fit for any romantic tryst.

A Valentine-themed quiz covering film, music and general knowledge wrapped up the afternoon, providing fun and a few surprises, too.

Meanwhile, staff at our Parkhead Resource Centre in Ashington have been helping their regulars prepare for an evening of romance with pamper sessions and manicures for all to make sure everyone is looking their best.

“We've made special cards for that special someone,” said Parkhead manager, Claire, “and, after a bit of a pamper, everyone is looking – and feeling – well groomed and ready for romance.”

Residents have a ball at their own Oscars party

11 February 2020

Holy Cross have their own Oscars party

Residents living at our Holy Cross Nursing Home in Sunderland have been following in the footsteps of some of the biggest Hollywood stars.

With TV screens, newspapers and magazines trumpeting news from this year's Academy Awards, staff at our nursing home were very much of the mind that ‘if you can't beat ‘em, join ‘em'.

Our home's activities' co-ordinator, Vicky, invited residents to try their hand at some Oscar-winning performances themselves and laid on a party fit for Hollywood's finest.

Soon, winners were being announced for ‘most dramatic performance', ‘best vocal performance' and ‘best footwork' and Oscar certificates were being awarded to our talented residents.

Champagne celebrations followed, and even the chocolate covered strawberries were dressed for the occasion, decorated like ball gowns and tuxedos.

The glittering occasion was rounded off with songs from some of the great films of yesteryear.

“What a fantastic time we all had,” said Vicky. “There's no better feeling than seeing our residents with a smile on their faces and announcing to everyone that they've had a wonderful afternoon.”

Marking Dignity Action Day

4 February 2020

Dignity tree and special cake

Residents at our nursing homes in Sunderland and Newcastle have been marking Dignity Action Day with some tasty treats and poignant thoughts.

At our Holy Cross nursing home in Sunderland, residents and staff gathered together to read out a collection of lovely poems and lively cartoons relating to dignity, which also doubled as a fitting tribute to World Read Aloud Day.

Our residents then enjoyed an afternoon ‘digni-tea', which included a specially decorated cake made by the home's chef.

Meanwhile, our St Catherine's Nursing Home residents in Newcastle were supported by staff to decorate their dignity tree with some of the many positive words to be found in our home's latest CQC inspection report.

Dignity is embedded in training and practice for every member of our staff and Dignity Action Day provides an opportunity to further highlight its importance.

Get ready to welcome the Year of the Rat

24 January 2020

Chinese New Year around our services

Dragons, lanterns, lucky envelopes and Chinese traditions are all featuring in our Chinese New Year celebrations around our services.

At our Parkhead Resource Centre in Ashington, our regular service users have enjoyed taking a glimpse at some Chinese traditions and shared their creative talents by making some pretty impressive paper lanterns, as well as a giant dragon to grace their walls.

To complete their warm welcome for the Year of the Rat, everyone is receiving a customary lucky red envelope containing a sweet surprise.

Residents at our Holy Cross nursing home in Sunderland are looking forward to a taste of the Orient with a Chinese banquet, complete with fortune cookies, and delving into their craft boxes to create their own paper lanterns.

Meanwhile, at our specialist Alan Shearer Centre in Newcastle, members, guests and staff have been busily making lanterns, too, in preparation for some Chinese lantern craft sessions this Saturday, 25 January.

And, as Burns Night is also fast approaching, you can even sample a little haggis when you come along, too.

The ‘make a lantern' activity is free for our Activity Centre members and you can ring our friendly recreation assistants on 0191 2678118 to book your place at one of two sessions – 12 noon until 1pm or 1pm until 2pm.

Kung Hei Fat Choy! Happy New Year!