Firstly, I’d like to confirm that our new home ‘Blackdown’ is now part of the Human Touch family. A massive welcome to all the staff and residents. It’s in a beautiful location on the edge of Dartmoor National Park. We planted a tree in the gardens there to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and I’ll be telling you a little more about our plans for our new home as the year progresses. 

On the subject of the Queen’s Jubilee, it was such an amazing long weekend for everyone and an incredible achievement by Her Majesty that deserves a very special mention. It’s going to be the main focus of this month’s blog as such an event may never happen again. 

We celebrated in style, putting on tributes to Her Majesty, watching the colourful parades on television and joining in the festivities wherever we could. I must thank our fabulous staff, including our amazing kitchen staff who made some particularly delicious cream teas! Our residents also enjoyed a special treat when local singer Samantha Montini joined us to reminisce, singing songs from the 1950s. You can see what fun we all had by taking a peek through our social media feeds. 

Generally, it was a time for reflection, especially for the residents of our 3 homes. The Queen is 96 years old, meaning of course she has shared many of the major events of the 70 years of her reign with quite a large proportion of our residents.  

Back in 1952, when she became our head of state, life was very different. It was only 7 years after the end of the World War and the much of the destruction caused by air-raid bombing was still evident.  Our own Torbay area was frequently attacked and records say that over 130 buildings were totally destroyed. It’s easy to forget that some of our residents were young children during this time. 

Some residents can still remember a time when there were no motorways or supermarkets and only a fraction of households had a television set, a black and white one at that! 

They can remember the big news stories, good and bad, happy and sad. England winning the football world cup in 1966, the awful school disaster in Aberfan, Wales, a few months later, and many more ups and downs of life. The Queen herself of course has had huge ups and downs in her family and personal life. Some of our residents remember the birth of her eldest children Charles and Anne, but also the controversy over Princes Margaret’s affair in the 1970’s and many years later the tragic loss of Princess Diana. 

Though some of our lovely residents live with dementia, which has a knock-on effect on their memories, it doesn’t mean that certain big events are forgotten over the years. There is a link between the perception of time and memory function in those with dementia. Family members often report their loved ones may have impairments in short-term memory, but their long-term memory of specific events can remain intact.  So sometimes they are able to remember the bigger public and personal events many decades ago, even if unable to recall what may have happened earlier that day.  

Much of our memory work with residents is focused around ‘memory boxes’ and we make good use of our interactive reminiscence table. We also have a decorating room and communal areas all geared at supporting our residents with meaningful memory spaces. 

One thing I would like to say though is that aspects associated with dementia and memory loss isn’t just something that afflicts the older generations.  Understandably, most people tend to associate our care home provision with the elderly, and statistically of course most of our residents are of advanced years. However, we need to be aware that there are those who are unfortunate to live with ‘young onset dementia’. With the condition now becoming more understood diagnosis is increasing, indeed it’s one of the more acute problems the care sector is likely to face over the coming years. Nursing homes are generally set up and established for our older generation, but as a sector we are now having to adapt and think about how we can alter our module to accommodate people as young at 40 moving into a care home setting. 

I spoke to a commissioner not long ago and he made me aware of the crisis local councils are facing with the demand for services for those in need of support from nursing homes. It’s a subject I will return to in a future blog as it’s one which hasn’t yet received the publicity and attention it deserves. 

Well that’s about it for this month. Looking back over the Queen’s reign has given us all a chance to think a little more about memories, and how those we care for all have their different needs and perspectives. 

It was a special time and such a joy to see our residents really enjoying sharing their celebrations with the Queen.