Meet our Lifestyle Enrichment Coordinator, Maria Howell
Hi, my name is Maria and I am the Lifestyle Enrichment Coordinator here at Mortain Place.
I have known the comings and goings of a care home since the age of seven years old, when my younger sister and I sat at work with mum and dad after school. We read to the residents, had tea and cake with them, danced around in the gardens, and gave out Christmas presents dressed as elves. As we grew up, we gained more sets of grandparents than biologically possible, but friends for life.
At 14 I began working as a housekeeper in the home, a role I loved as I could chat to everybody as I got on with my jobs. I often helped out with bigger events throughout the year, too, and thrived on the buzz of everyone being together and enjoying each other’s’ company. At 17, I moved into the role of activities coordinator.
Now, after different workplaces and a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing, I am here working at Barchester Healthcare. I am keen to bring my experience and my passions to my role, to fulfill and empower lives. Coming to work does not feel like a job to me: I adore the people I work with, I care for them deeply, and I am privileged to have this opportunity.
Our activities team are great at building the activities programme around the likes and interests of the people we care for. Ensuring that our social events offer fun and adventure is part of the ethos of our home; it’s important that those we support can enjoy an active and social lifestyle. Of course, there will always be those who prefer peace and quiet, and in these instances, a cup of tea and a chat are always welcomed.
Life at Mortain Place Care Home
We have had an amazing Christmas here at Mortain Place, with virtual carol concert and ballet performances, arts & crafts, delicious food, and much more! This Christmas was bound to be different for multiple reasons, so we tried our hardest to make things ‘normal’.
Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of our local Morrisons and Tesco, we were able to create the Mortain Place Christmas Shop for all residents to browse and choose presents for their loved ones. We wanted everyone to have that shopping experience, and to feel as though they could give back. Gifts ranged from biscuit boxes to little poinsettias to shower gels and bubble baths.
It was a privilege to watch the residents of Mortain Place choose gifts for their children, their significant others, and their friends, and to experience the joy of giving them.
Festive Fire Station Gifts
Eastbourne Fire Station Commander, Vinny O’Neill, accepted festive goody bags made by staff at Mortain Place. The bags contained gifts, homemade mince pies and sweets made by our fabulous Head Chef, as well as tins of sweets and biscuits to say thank you for all that the fire station staff do in our local community and to wish them all happy Christmas.
The Christmas festivities have begun at Mortain Place with the crafting of Christmas cards. We spent some time a few weeks ago cutting out last years’ cards to recycle and reuse, and have now created some beautiful home-made cards to send out to family and friends. We are spending dedicated time each week to write out Christmas cards together, ready to send out at the beginning of December.
To celebrate Diwali at Mortain Place, we got creative and tested our taste buds. We are always keen to experience and learn about different cultures, so started our afternoon by coming together to watch a short film about the festival. We then made colourful tea light holders from recycled glass pots and tissue paper. The kitchen team had prepared traditional treats for us to try, including a raspberry-coconut lassi—a bit like a milkshake! Now dry, the tissue paper pots are on display, glowing in the dark.
On this Remembrance Sunday, we have paid our respects here at Mortain Place. Residents and staff came together to watch the BBC One service, partake in the two minute silence and wear red poppies delivered by the Royal British Legion. In the weeks leading up to the day, we created a wreath of red poppies for our front door and our own version of the cenotaph.
Arts in Care Homes
Creativity is a huge part of our lives at Mortain Place, from music and dance, to literature and crafts. To celebrate National Day of Arts in Care Homes, we decided to go down the visual arts route by creating some spectacular pieces using only coffee filters, washable markers, and water! The results were absolutely amazing and we will be framing these to display around the home.