'The kindness this year has been overwhelming': Care homes reflect on how festive cards have helped residents this Christmas

The Post's Cards for Kindness campaign gave people the chance to reach out to those in care homes who battled isolation over the festive season.

By James Holt
Wednesday, 23rd December 2020, 10:02 am

And according to the care homes involved, of which there were over 100 in Lancashire, the scheme was a huge success.

The Covid-19 pandemic brought with it particular feelings of sadness and isolation, especially for those in care homes who had been shut away from loved ones.

The recent ONS figures show that 2.2 million of over 60s say that they haven’t had anyone to talk to about their worries and sadly 2.2 million said they felt like they are a burden on others.

A resident of Brookside, Betty Snape with her Christmas card

Louise Newton, manager of Brookside care home, Clayton Brook, said writing simple things like daily routines or what people ate for breakfast has 'done wonders' for their mental health.

She said: "We have had loads of cards and had to stick them all over the doors. Once we take them down, we will be keeping them and putting them in an album for the residents to look at because they made them so happy.

"We had cards from adults and little children from everywhere. One even came from Dorset, wishing the residents a happy Christmas and lots of love.

"These cards have really meant everything to them and we have talked so much about them this year. Recently, we have been speaking about what they used to get in their stockings when they were children and are now putting together Christmas stockings of the past.

The scheme has helped tackle feelings of isolation in the elderly people

"This year has been particularly difficult for everyone and these cards have made many residents know they are being thought of. We are sitting back and reflecting on those who we are missing and who can't be with us in these strange times.

"We are just doing the best with what we have. This year, kindness has been really overwhelming. The residents are so happy and people seem to be looking out for others with more thoughtfulness. There is so much more empathy out there."

As well as partaking in Lancashire county council's 'cards for kindness' scheme, Brookside has been involved with Age UK's postcards of kindness initiative for the past few years.

The Post asked our readers to send an extra card to any of the care homes taking part in the scheme, which was first set up by Lancashire County Council in summer 2018 as a response to increasing feelings of loneliness in care homes.

Broadfield House care home residents received thoughtful handmade cards from the local Cubs group

Helen O'Connor, Activities Coordinator at Broadfield House care home, Leyland, alongside Manager Adam Croad added that the cards for kindness scheme had been a similar success there for those missing loved ones this year.

And residents also received handmade lanterns and painted rocks from children from the local Cubs group.

She said: "Residents have been really overwhelmed by the thought that people have put into these cards. Many of them are missing their own families and grandchildren, and it generates discussions between people.

"We have some residents who usually go home for Christmas, so it has been particularly challenging for them. It has also been difficult for the elderly people with dementia because it has been hard for them to understand why they can't see their families and why they only see them through a pane of glass or through a computer screen.

Broadfield residents were also gifted handpainted rocks with festive messages

"We became involved with the Cub scouts who sent us their own cards for kindness, made the residents Christmas lanterns that were decorated and hand-painted lots of rocks with messages of hope and support our NHS.

"It was a different way of getting contact because they haven't seen anyone since March. They have had no family visits and not even been allowed out which is hard to watch. These cards and thoughtful gifts have been really important and all the residents have really appreciated it."

Talib Yaseen, executive director of transformation from the Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care System, said: “Cards for Kindness is a wonderful way to spread a little Christmas spirit by sending a festive greetings card to people living in our local care homes."

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Broadfield House residents with their homemade cards and painted rocks