This is by far our busiest December yet.
It was all kicked off by a new entertainer Damian who entertained our residents on the afternoon of the light switch on. Damian sang songs that the residents knew and they all enjoyed singing along with him. Then that evening we of course had our Christmas light switch on. Many of our residents and their families joined the crowds to take the magical walk round our gardens. There was roughly around three thousand people who came along to help us start off the Christmas celebrations in Towell House. We had our BBQ which was ran by the kitchen staff, Marshmallow pit ran by our maintenance and SD Bells and Dinky doughnuts provided the hot drinks for the night. We had support from Eventsec staff to manage the crowd. We held what is now our tradition of running a competition with local schools in the area to see who will help turn on the Christmas tree lights. We receive great support from the schools for this and many of the teachers turn up on the night to see their pupils turn the lights on.
Eastside choir entertained our residents one afternoon with Christmas carols and later that night we had the girl scouts in who held a beetle drive in our dining room. This was greatly enjoyed and the residents enjoyed having the girls company.
Brooklands primary school choir visited us in the morning and sang a number of Christmas hymns and songs, Brooklands are very supportive and pursue intergeneration activities with ourselves constantly. That afternoon we had Alistair Scott Ceilidh Band who played a variety of songs the residents could sing along to. That evening some of our residents took part in a quiz in the main lounge. They all had a quiz sheets and as Lauren called out the questions they had to write down the answers. At the ends Lauren marked the quiz sheets and presents the winner with a prize.
We had our residents committee meeting where we informed the residents of what was coming up this month and what not to miss out on. We then went through the normal layout where they can discuss any complaints, compliments or issues they may have. Whilst the committee meeting was in progress we also had Active Communities down in the main lounge who were playing ball games with the residents. That afternoon the residents made Christmas wreaths for their bedroom doors. This was very popular with the residents and they enjoyed making something Christmassy for their bedrooms.
We had the pleasure of having Yoga Babies visit us once again. Our residents LOVE to see the babies and the mummies coming in they get to have cuddle time with the babies, natter with the mums and then watch them do their baby yoga. It is a very relaxed activity. In the afternoon we had Our Lady and St Patrick’s students come in for their monthly visit. The students work their way round the main lounge chatting to everyone. As they have been coming for a number of months now they have started to get know the residents and built up a rapport with them.
We had an Irish dancing group come in on Saturday morning to perform for our residents. This is the second year in a row the dance group have volunteered to attend and we are very appreciate of it.
As well as having our Sunday service we were also joined by the YMCA youth group who created some activities to do with our residents in the George Allen Lounge. This activity went very well, there was no awkwardness and the youth group where very comfortable talking to our residents. We served tea and Danish pastries for them all to enjoy.
We had request a tune on this morning were residents can pick what song they would like played and explain why. This can tend to be a very emotional activity for some residents. In the afternoon we had rhythm and movement in for the Christmas musical workshop. Resident sang along to Christmas songs, took part in a musical quiz and played percussion instruments. Philomena is greatly enjoyed by majority of our residents. In the evening we had the pleasure of Belfast East Rotary Club providing an evening of supper and entertainment for our residents. This is something they do annually.
Longstone primary school invited us along to their Christmas play The Lion King. Our residents love going to see the school plays as they recognise some of the students they have worked along with throughout the year. We then had Barney from Startrax disco provide an afternoon of music memories for our residents. Barney played music along with video clips on a projector for the residents. This is very popular and we were packed out for this activity.
Our residents decorated ginger bread men in the George Allen lounge on the afternoon of the carol service whilst the main lounge was being set up. Our Carol service was well attended. We were glad Brooklands Primary school choir could come along and Pastor Drew Steele held the service for us. Afterwards we served Tea/coffee and mince pies in our main lounge. The residents commented on how much they enjoyed the service the next day.
Wee care day nursery returned with two and three year olds to visit our residents. It was the pick me up we all needed seeing the children run round with lots of energy to burn. The children coloured in and gave their pictures to the residents like they were presents. The residents enjoyed showing the children the Christmas trees and all the decorations. It was a lovely a morning. After Wee care left we had a mindharp session in the George Allen Lounge. MindHarp is new app that can be used on IPad specifically targeting older people and people with dementia. It is a musical app that is very interactive. The residents had to touch buttons on the app to great sounds which they could then join to create a tune. Some of our residents found using the app was very relaxing whilst others thought it was ‘a load of nonsense’. We were approached by the creator of mindharp to try it out. Also this morning some of our residents went to vote in the local polling station. The DUP sent cars to escort them over, the residents where assisted over by Rachael. In the afternoon the residents went on a trip to the strand cinema to watch ‘Meet me in St Louis’. Everyone enjoyed the film. In the evening Accordion Sounds played music in our main lounge. They played a variety of Christmas carols and hymns. Accordion Sounds are very popular.
Golden oldies bingo was a new one for the residents this month. Rachael found a way to create her own musical bingo so the residents don’t get tired and bored of the same songs. This bingo went down very well and they all enjoyed hearing some songs they hadn’t heard in years. Francie Cunningham played for two hours in the afternoon. Francie sings songs that everyone can sing along to. Some residents got up to dance whilst others had a boogie in their seats. Francie is always popular and has been coming to Towell House for many years.
We had a new entertainers in called A Touch of Pure (Donna and Ben). Before they started Donna gave each resident a head piece (Santa hats, tiaras, elf ears etc.) this brought much amusement to everyone. They also had a projector which put Christmas illuminations onto the celling. They sang songs that everyone knew the words to so they could sing along and also had a jokes session half way through. There was lots of smiles and laughter and was greatly enjoyed.
Our Lady and St Patricks Christmas Concert is a sure favourite in Towell House. The students are so talented. We had carols, string quartets, Irish dancers and traditional music. We look forward to having them come every year. They always receive a good turnout of residents. In the afternoon Deborah songbird sang for us. She has a lovely voice. She sang Christmas songs and songs from musicals. I brought down our percussion instruments for the residents so we could join in with her. It was a lovely afternoon of singing. In the evening we had the pleasure again of having the Lagan Seahorse Choir perform for us. Around 30 of the choir attended and the residents where in for a real treat. They sang songs and got involved with the residents.
We decided we needed day to relax so we had Sharon Dixon return for storytelling. Sharon is very popular with some of our residents and often her storytelling time can run well over the hour. All you can here is laughter from the lounge when she is in. in the afternoon we settled down to watch a White Christmas in the pink lounge. Some of our residents hadn’t seen the film in years so they felt very nostalgic while watching it. Whilst the film was on this allowed us to prepare for the evening activity, Wine and Cheese. We set up the dining room after evening tea and set out plates of treats. We had seven different cheeses, breads, crackers, olives and different meats all to be washed down with red/white wine or shloer. We asked Ruth Corry to come back and play her harp in the back ground. This was a lovely social occasion for the residents and many family members joined them which was lovely to see.
We had some Christmas moving and grooving the next morning to work off all that cheese from the night before. They exercised in their seats to some lively Christmas songs. Venture kids returned in the afternoon to play bingo and sing some Christmas carols with the residents. We have worked quite a bit with venture kids over the past few months and it is nice to get to know the children and the staff. Alistair Scott Ceilidh Band returned once again in the evening due to being extremely popular. Their music is so lively and upbeat residents always comment how they feel so happy and energised after they have played.
We were invited once again to Brooklands primary school Christmas play which quite a few of our residents where delighted with. Our residents are treated like royalty at the school and the teachers and pupils are so lovely to them. They remember the resident’s names and always go the extra mile. Our residents had been asking since the start of December if they were going to be invited again to see their play so when we informed them of the invitation there was a lot of happy residents. The Christmas play was fantastic and as usual Towell House always gets a mention at the start by the principle. Over the past year we have built up a good relationship with Brooklands Primary School and we very much look forward to working with them more in 2020. Inge provided an afternoon of relaxing music which was much needed. Inge brings a different style of music. She uses lots of unusual instruments such as sound bowls, wind chimes etc. the residents always comment on how peaceful they find her music. In the evening we had three families from the Hope Church in Belfast come to sing Christmas Carols. There was seven adults and four children. They brought guitars and keyboards with them and well as carol sheets to give out round the residents. Our residents engaged well with them and everyone sang along.
It would be Christmas without some Christmas bingo. We had all the favourite Christmas songs, Deck the Halls, Mary’s Boy Child, We Three Kings etc. Bingo went down well with everyone. We made some Christmas Paper Chains in the afternoon for some of their bedrooms. It was nice to have a day of simpler activities.
We had another morning of moving and grooving to get the last bit of exercises in before Christmas day and in the afternoon all the ladies gathered in the main lounge to get pampers and ready for the big day. Nails where files and polished and hand massages given.
Our Christmas party this year was with Trevor Dixon. Trevor has been coming to Towell House for a number of years and always provided us with a lively day. He plays a multitude of instruments. He sings a variety of songs and always gets us up to dance. Mince pies and Mulled wine were given out before the big man himself Santa arrived to wish us all a Merry Christmas and give out some chocolates. The party brought an end to our Christmas activities.
First day back to activities was all about relaxing and having some quiet time. Armchair yoga was in the morning and it was followed by Christmas Chronicles film in the afternoon. As a lot of residents where still receiving a lot of visitors it is easier to have activities on that they can come and go as they please without missing much.
We had Moving and Grooving again this morning followed by mindful art in the afternoon where residents painted using water colours. A handful of our residents really enjoy this activity.
We had our New Year’s party this afternoon which Trevor Dixon kindly held for us again due to him being so popular at the Christmas party. We celebrated the New Year with music and a glass of bucks fizz!