Special Day

One of the really special days we celebrated in May was of course VE Day. Wartime memorabilia was on show throughout Shipston Lodge as we commemorated that momentous day 75 years ago when peace returned to Europe. We decorated our hallway with Union Jack bunting and created a museum-style feel. We had a WWII uniform and a few 1940s-style dresses. We also printed out World War Two pictures of the places where all of our residents lived and other images showing bomb-damaged sites such as the Bournville factory. Then we laminated the pictures and stuck them on the picture frames so our residents and staff could walk along and look at the displays. We covered our piano and garden lounge entrance with camouflage material, aeroplanes and bombs. Residents helped to make ration books by copying an original version and to add authenticity we stained them with coffee! Then inside the books we printed what rations adults would have had per day. Also included was the menu for our BBQ. Chef prepared homemade burgers, sausages and chicken skewers. He also created homemade coleslaw and fresh salad. We also had a treat for dessert with homemade trifle and rainbow cake. We sat out in the garden then proceeded to the dining area for our lunch, which was decorated with more Union Jack bunting, flags, paper napkins, plates and cups. We also organised a big board setting out all of the fascinating stories from our residents of the periods before and during the war. Because of the lockdown we couldn’t invite any entertainers in; undaunted, members of the Shipston Lodge team stepped up performed and then led sing-a-longs to wartime favourites. Some staff even dressed as Land girls and members of a bomber crew. Throughout the day we had the chance to look through two albums showing photos and stories of our residents’ wartime experience. It was a truly wonderful day. Among the many lovely comments from residents was one from Eileen who said it was ‘such a wonderful day with singing,’ and Selina said: “It was excellent, it was organised well.” For Pam, ‘it brought back great memories,’ and Johnny said, “It was great, I loved it.” And Alan was so kind: “It was such a wonderful day. What you have all put in as planned for the day was a merit to you all. I wanted to salute all of you for making this day brilliant for us.”

Keeping Busy

With all this lovely weather recently it only seemed appropriate to have a very welcome visit from an ice cream van. Both residents and staff were very grateful when Mr Whippi popped by! For those who love a sing-a-long we hosted one in our very own pub, The Lamb Inn. The chef dropped in to demonstrate how to make refreshing elderflower cordial, which was then used the following day to wash down the amazing Waldorf salad chef had created with leaves and herbs from our residents’ garden. We’ve had lots of fun with photos recently, from rockstar glasses pictured in inflatable frames to silly phone apps. Great fun! We always keep busy here at Shipston Lodge, and recently residents helped decorate tables for afternoon tea and quiz, we watched movies, took part in wonderful chair exercises and had a sing-a-long with Tina Turner on karaoke. While there was a more sedate pace in the salon with vinyl records playing golden oldies as the ladies enjoyed a little pampering. Lovely. As Easter approached there was plenty of arts and crafts on show with residents creating beautiful embroidered felt bunnies and chicks. We thought it would be great fun to ask residents, staff, family and friends to take part in an Easter bonnet making competition. Wow! We were amazed by the outstanding quality. And the parade was quite special too. And the staff were very grateful to receive a lovely big Easter hamper from Johnny. Thank you so much x Making the best of the lovely weather in the garden by planting some flowers in the raised beds. And gardening too: courgettes, chillies, runner beans, herbs and tomatoes. We’ve been very creative making pom poms, transforming our shoes in the process. While some preferred them as earrings! Technology such as Skype has really helped us keep in touch with loved ones at the moment. Great fun was had all playing life-size Hungry Hippos with some members of staff showing a surprising level of competitiveness! We are always touched by the messages of love and support from friends and family, and we were especially moved in early April when we received letters from local school children. In one letter, young Josh said how he was enjoying springtime watching the baby lambs in the fields and the flowers growing in his garden. He also hoped the picture of a rainbow he painted would make the residents smile. It certainly did Josh, thank you. And six-year-old Jensen wrote a lovely letter asking us about how we spent our days and telling us about how he was spending his time on a trampoline and a swing when not doing schoolwork at home. We also have Bonnie and Vinnie writing from the New Forest about the freedom ponies have to roam about there. When the weather is this good why not celebrate with a little singing and dancing! And a regular favourite… Hair and Nails Day!

Lovely residents, great team

Maintaining a safe, loving environment while ensuring fun and happiness continues during such a challenging time comes down to one thing says Michelle Rogers, manager of Shipston Lodge: people. “The staff work so hard,” says Michelle. “They pull together as a team, they support the residents, and smile throughout this difficult time because they love their job and because they actually work for the residents.” Michelle stresses the importance of this ethos. “The residents aren’t living in our workplace we are working in their home.”

While Shipston Lodge has a real family feel, like all families each member is an individual and so residents are no different. “We are all about person-centred care,” says Michelle. “It is all about what that individual person wants, and if they don’t want to get involved then that’s fine, and if they want to get involved we will see what their interests are.” The member of the team responsible for finding out those interests has enlisted the format of a TV favourite from a few decades ago to help out in an entertaining way. Queenie Goudie creates a version of This Is Your Life when residents first arrive with their families. “I make it a fun event,” explains Queenie. “I say to the resident, ‘this is about you, what is it you want, what makes you happy.’”

A This Is Your Life-style book is then created and updated with the details and photos of the activities the resident takes part in, ‘then that book stays in their rooms so family and staff can have a look and reminisce with the resident,’ says Queenie. As an activity coordinator, Queenie enjoys a very hands-on role. “I am involved with all the aspects of choosing, planning and carrying out activities and events for residents on a daily basis at least seven days a week and on an eight hours a day basis,” she says. “I try to make these activities a safe and enjoyable experience for the residents and staff, from gardening to games including hungry hippo and Scrabble, and from fine dining to themed events such as the recent VE Day commemoration,” says Queenie.

“It is so rewarding when the residents join in and thank you for a wonderful time.” Michelle agrees that marking historic events as important as the Second World War allows younger generations to honour those who lived through it. “Our residents mean so much to us,” she says. “If it wasn’t for our residents none of us would be here. And what they went through in their lives we will never experience.” Surprisingly perhaps, Queenie’s route to the job she loves so much was by chance. While working as a student liaison officer in a college she organised a care agency manager visit to talk to Health and Social Care students. “The care manager said to me ‘you should be doing care with your personality and your organisational skills and experience as an event organiser’.

So I undertook the role as a senior carer/office scheduler in the care agency, working in private homes for over six years and went on to hospital (Horton Hospital) as Nursing Assistant for over two years. “But I really did miss the closeness of being near residents and wanted something different from care agency or hospital work; and my colleagues, my family and friends did say to me with my experience and knowledge and my personality I should be looking at being either a care manager or activities coordinator, so I started looking for a vacancy as activities coordinator,” says Queenie. “And have never looked back!” And Michelle is delighted to have her at Shipston Lodge.

“Queenie brings many things to the job: a person people can trust, and she builds that trust,” says Michelle. “Residents open up to her, which is great and proves she gives them time and supports them, to feel comfortable. All the staff at the home, including management, mirror Queenie’s hands-on approach. “Queenie’s enthusiasm gets the rest of the staff on board,” says Michelle, “and myself and Clive [Edward, deputy manager] and the managers get involved as well. I’ll happily help wash hair and other duties; just because I’m a manager doesn’t mean I can’t do that.” Michelle insists breaking down hierarchical barriers and supporting each other works well for the team at Shipston Lodge. “We have cross-boundary work here,” she says. “The chef came down at the weekend and made elderflower cordial with the residents. “Chef gets very passionate about food and also created a big union jack for the VE Day cake, and was more than happy to research what they would have eaten at that time.”

Finding ourselves in another challenging period of our history, Michelle says making sure morale is kept high is important for all in the home. “We’ve been fortunate that we’ve had no residents poorly, no staff poorly and we’ve done a great job with cleaning and with infection control,” says Michelle. “We’ve had no problems with PPE, and our directors have been fabulous – if we’ve needed it we’ve got it. “But since lockdown, maintaining high morale is very important as our residents need us to be that smiley, happy person.” If staff members feel they need to discuss concerns about issues outside of Shipston Lodge, Queenie has organised a space for regular drop-in sessions. “When Michelle arrived here she said we have a lot of space, we should utilise it. So we have an in-house pub, the Lamb Inn – but there’s no beer! – a place where staff can meet up once a week to offload about things if they want,” Queenie says. “We’re all friends here. It’s really nice.” Ensuring colleagues as well as residents feel loved and cared for is everyday reality for Queenie, and her manager is one of her many fans. “I think Queenie is amazing,” says Michelle. “I always say that her last employer’s loss is my gain.”