‘Best ever’ Christmas Party for Lowestoft care home

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Joan Fennell with grand-daughter

The Christmas Party, held on 6th December at Hotel Victoria in Lowestoft and attended by 120 guests, was described as ‘the best party ever’. What made it so special was the involvement of the care home residents in the preparation and decision-making throughout the process of organising the party.

The care home took a decision to involve the residents from the early stages of event planning. They were given a choice of three venues after the care home staff checked each location for suitability and access. The staff arranged a trip to a selected hotel for a group of five residents to check if the hotel’s “look and feel” met their expectations. At Hotel Victoria, the residents met with Rachel, the party planner, and talked through the numbers of guests, table set up, decorations and food choices. The residents who visited the hotel took photos at the hotel to share them with the rest of the residents at Harleston House.

A few days later, a meeting was organised with the residents at the care home, where they had an opportunity to discuss the hotel choice, entertainment and food options. Each resident was asked about their food choice and the menu was created. The residents’ views on the entertainment were also taken into account. They listened on the Internet to music played by a selection of local bands and they decided that The Lee Vasey Band was right for them.

The residents’ meetings were used to discuss the event plans and to share the preferred ideas with the rest of the care home to find out what the majority of the residents wanted to take forward. The plans for the party were discussed with family and friends who were all very supportive.

A week before the Christmas Party, staff at the care home met with the residents to discuss what they were expecting from the party and how they wanted to get ready on the day of the event. The residents decided that it would be best for them to have a relaxing morning so they had plenty of energy for the party. They asked if they could be helped with preparations two hours before the party and that was put into the plan.

If a decision had to be made regarding the event, the residents were asked first before anyone else to ensure they were happy with any arrangements being proposed. They were also asked who they wished to invite to the party and some of the residents decided to invite family members and the others chose friends to accompany them.

On the day of the event, the residents were very excited when getting ready for the party. The ladies enjoyed dressing up and putting on their makeup and accessories. One of the residents, Joan, was so excited about the party that she was ready for 3.30pm with an hour to spare. Another resident, Marcella, was helping out by encouraging other residents to get ready and reassure them that they were going to have a great time.

When the coach arrived, all the residents were queuing by the door, ready for the coach to take them to the venue. There were no comments that it was cold or dark and they wished to stay indoors. All the residents were relaxed and in good spirits before the trip and it felt like they were going away on holiday. The relaxed and happy atmosphere continued when they arrived at the hotel and throughout the night of the Christmas party.

Eric, a resident who doesn’t usually dance, was on the dance floor with the staff and his family. Another resident, who frequently calls out when other people are around her, was relaxed and was seen tapping her feet to the music. Doris, who usually gets saddened if other residents don’t take part in the fun activities, was very excited that so many of the residents danced and that everyone enjoyed themselves.   The whole room was alive with fun and laughter, hand clapping and singing.

The musicians from The Lee Vasey Band commented that so many residents took part in singing and dancing that they wouldn’t have known any of the residents had dementia.

The atmosphere at the party has never been better and it seemed like a perfect night. The residents are still talking about their Christmas Party and can’t wait for the party next year!

A resident, Doreen Doyle, commented: “I had a brilliant time, all my family were there and my great grandchildren were all up dancing and having a good time. I loved it.”

A daughter of another resident, Jessie Challis, said: “It was brilliant, loved it. The next day mum was full of it, telling her other family about the party and how she enjoyed it. It lifted my mum.”

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