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
VE Day at Mortain Place
To celebrate the 75th Anniversary of VE Day on Friday 8th May, residents and staff at Mortain Place dressed in red, white, and blue for an immersive tea party.
Invites were delivered throughout the week, but details were kept under wraps to save the surprise for the afternoon – and what a surprise it was! After being ushered into the air raid shelter by WAAF Squadron Officer Howell, reading the current news, boosting morale with some jolly London songs, the black-out curtain was ripped down to reveal the victory party!
Whilst in the shelter, the news came in via telephone that Britain had achieved victory in Europe, and the war was over! The party was full of Glenn Miller, homemade lemonade, sandbags, traditional carrot scones and cheese and marmite pinwheels, pots of tea, Vera Lynn, dancing, masking taped-windows, and much more. Everyone, joined by family via Zoom, raised a glass to VE Day and victory at 3pm and enjoyed themselves thoroughly.
Green Fingers in the Garden
We have been very busy in our gardens of late, outside almost every day making the most of the lovely weather. Some of the residents here at Mortain Place like to have a stroll and breath in the fresh air, whilst others choose to get their fingers dirty weeding, planting, and watering.
We have recently planted some herbs – chives, oregano, basil, and parsley – that we are hoping can be used in the kitchen and in our food so we can get a taste of our work! Many of the residents have their own small gardens they tend to, with small pots, bird feeders, and bird baths, but everyone loves to come together and work on the raised beds.
National Tea Day
Tuesday 21st April was National Tea Day, and Barchester, as a company, received tea packs from the National Tea Day team. Ours arrived just as we sat down for a royal afternoon tea (with it also being the Queen’s birthday too), which was full of various types of teas and biscuits!
This was such a lovely gesture; every single Barchester home received this! Mortain Place was also chosen to be part of a live Zoom call with ‘celebs’ from the TV show Made in Chelsea! Our Head of Activities, Maria, and two others from the company spoke with two of the stars about how tea helps bring us all together, and what we have been doing with the residents whilst in lockdown.
How quintessentially British of us to celebrate the Queen’s birthday with endless amounts of tea!
Local people in Eastbourne have been dropping of gifts at Mortain Place. Our residents have received lots of pictures and paintings done by children and adults in the local community with lovely messages on to show they are not forgotten at this difficult time.
All gifts being dropped off are in sealed plastic bags and go through 72 hour quarantine to ensure residents and staff stay safe. Residents are really happy that people have done this for them and they will be putting the shells and stones in the flower beds they are currently planting in, and the pictures will all be going up on the walls in the care home.
Residents and staff will be inviting the local community in for afternoon tea to say thank you once the home is open again for visitors.
The dog show which took place on Saturday 7th March was a great success! Lots of people and dogs attended and had a fun-filled afternoon in aid of charity Canine Partners. It was extremely cold, but the dogs donned warm coats and some even won rosettes for best in their category. We raised £162.00 for the charity, so thank you to everyone who attended and supported us and the charity.
Valentine's Day Celebration
Valentine’s Day can be difficult as life moves on and we grow old, but throughout February at Mortain Place we focused on not those that we miss, but those we still have, and new people in our lives. We made cards for each other in craft sessions, sang at the top of our voices in singing groups, and got ready for a big party together borrowing each other’s’ dresses.
For Valentine’s Day, we had a dinner dance, to which everyone was invited and at which everyone sat together. We moved our dining area to the bistro so we could sit at long tables and chat to each other over a three-course meal, and not worry about who had come with who, and who had a partner, etc etc. After dinner, and a few glasses of fizz, we moved down to the lounge for the disco of love songs and danced the night away!