Staff at a residential service for people with enduring mental health problems in Frindsbury, near Strood in Kent, have been praised by their manager and the families of people who live there for the bereavement support they provided when one of their house-mates passed on.
Seventy-three-year-old Raymond Coote, who died in hospital following a severe stroke, had lived at Orchard View for three years, and was a very popular individual.
Service manager John Henderson said: “Raymond’s funeral was held on 21 December with many of the people we support at Orchard View in attendance, and they were clearly affected by their loss.
“Dealing with the death of anyone we support is one of the hardest parts of our job. But from time to time it’s inevitable and a crucial part of our role is to help those we support to deal with it too.
“These individuals can’t always express their feelings in a very obvious way, but my staff were sensitive to their sadness.
“The team created a respectful environment where the loss of a friend could be mourned with dignity, and sharing our feelings eased the pain without ever becoming morbid.
“Although the staff were also mourning Raymond’s passing they were determined to pull together and make sure Orchard View was still a happy place to spend Christmas and the New Year, and they succeeded.
“It was a particularly tough balancing act on this occasion – ensuring all due respects were paid and at the same time creating a warm and relaxed atmosphere for the festivities – but the team did a terrific job and I’m very proud of them.”
Festive outings included two pantomimes – Aladdin at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford and Dick Whittington at the Central Theatre in Chatham – plus a visit to see Santa at the Millbrook Garden Centre, Southfleet.
Staff also provided distractions indoors supporting the people who live at Orchard View – ranging in age from 23 to 55 – to produce festive decorations from leaves they collected themselves and sprayed in bright colours, enjoy festive baking and have fun with Christmas bingo.