Reignit­ing the Christ­mas spirit

The fes­tive sea­son can be a dif­fi­cult time for the older gen­er­a­tion, but re­tire­ment homes are work­ing to en­sure that it con­tin­ues to be merry

Cheshire Life - - Retirement - WORDS: El­lie Fells

In 2018, new anal­y­sis by Age UK re­vealed that half a mil­lion older peo­ple were ex­pect­ing to feel lonely over Christ­mas, with 230,000 say­ing that they would be on their own for at least one day over the fes­tive sea­son. These statis­tics come as a clear re­minder that the fes­tive sea­son isn’t nec­es­sar­ily a time of cel­e­bra­tion for ev­ery­one. How­ever, many lead­ing care home providers are now work­ing to make Christ­mas that bit mer­rier.

Lead­ing the way is Aud­ley, who have re­tire­ment vil­lages across the UK. The gen­eral well­be­ing of res­i­dents is ev­i­dently a key con­sid­er­a­tion here – so­cia­ble restau­rants, health clubs and li­braries are part of ev­ery vil­lage, which have been care­fully de­signed to en­sure that re­tire­ment liv­ing can be as en­joy­able as pos­si­ble. This ap­proach con­tin­ues into the Christ­mas pe­riod: this year they have many events planned for their res­i­dents, in­clud­ing Christ­mas mar­kets. The restau­rants will all be of­fer­ing fan­tas­tic fes­tive menus – on Christ­mas Day res­i­dents can en­joy a turkey with all the trim­mings, whilst there is also a spe­cial fes­tive af­ter­noon tea, a Box­ing Day brunch and menus for New Year’s Eve.

Paul Mor­gan, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of oper­a­tions at Aud­ley, ex­plains that events like this are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant over the fes­tive pe­riod. ‘Christ­mas, while full of cheer for many, can be a dif­fi­cult time for some and this is one of the rea­sons we put on a full sched­ule of events,’ he says. ‘It’s a great way to bring ev­ery­one to­gether.’

McCarthy and Stone are also keenly aware of the chal­lenges that can arise over the fes­tive pe­riod. Christ­mas in their de­vel­op­ments is filled with tra­di­tional touches such as carols and mince pies, and a num­ber of their de­vel­op­ments are also or­gan­is­ing their own spe­cific events too. ‘Many of our home­own­ers have built a real sense of com­mu­nity within their homes and what bet­ter way to cel­e­brate these long-last­ing friend­ships than by shar­ing Christ­mas to­gether,’ re­flects Geoff Bates from McCarthy and Stone. Pe­ga­susLife will also be hold­ing a num­ber of com­mu­nity fes­tive events to cel­e­brate Christ­mas this year. ‘Liv­ing so­cially among oth­ers is a huge part of well­be­ing,’ adds He­len Hogg, gen­eral man­ager at Park House in Harpen­den.

Sadly lone­li­ness amongst the older gen­er­a­tion over the fes­tive sea­son is noth­ing new, but re­cent years have seen care homes and re­tire­ment vil­lages work­ing to change this. Christ­mas is now be­ing treated as an op­por­tu­nity to rally the com­mu­nity to­gether and re­visit fond tra­di­tions and mem­o­ries.

‘Liv­ing so­cially among oth­ers is a huge part of well­be­ing’

BE­LOW: McCarthy and Stone aim to bring peo­ple to­gether at Christ­mas

ABOVE: Din­ner set to be served at Pe­ga­susLife

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