The answer to the age-old question ‘When can the Christmas decorations go up?’ is now! It’s finally December and the holiday season is well on its way.
With the Christmas season being a joyous time of year throughout life and a key event in family calendars, residents and staff of aged care facilities often like to bring the spirit of Christmas into their homes.
This article gives you the top five ideas for bringing a little (or a lot) of the festive cheer into your aged care facility.
Dust away the Halloween cobwebs and roll out the classic red, green, gold and silver Christmas decorations.
And of course, many nursing homes will have a Christmas tree in the common area which residents might like to help decorate.
If you want to go a little further, a display of themed decorations could bring even more joy to the room.
There are many different types of statues, ornaments and inflatables that can be found in stores at this time of year – think reindeers, snowmen, santa clauses and more classic shapes like Christmas trees.
In a facility with a majority of residents of a Christian faith, they might also enjoy a nativity scene set up in a common area.
Residents can also be helped to decorate their doors or rooms with festive tinsel or their own displays.
Lights come in all colours, shapes, sizes and costs these days, so taking part in your community’s Christmas lights displays can be quite simple and cheap.
With a bit of creativity, you can turn a few strings of lights into a colourful wonderland in your facility’s garden.
However, you do need to be aware of setting up lights where they won’t filter in to residents’ rooms and disrupt them, as well as the effect any flashing or harshly coloured lights might have on residents with sensory challenges.
The Christmas card is a bit of a dying tradition in the modern world, where connecting with others is so often done online.
But a physical Christmas card with a short festive message will still mean a lot to many people living in nursing homes, so having one card per resident to hand out at this time of year can make a big difference.
Residents could receive a card from the facility and staff, or be provided with a card to give out to someone else. Cards are an opportunity to build a connection for residents and for them to feel valued.
You can even encourage the families of residents to get involved and create handmade Christmas cards for their older loved ones.
Arts and crafts are a common way for facilities to provide lifestyle activities for residents and an easy activity to get the festive spirit going. Activities could include making ornaments, wreaths or stockings to go on the communal Christmas tree, hang on doors or decorate residents’ rooms.
Residents might also like to handmake Christmas cards to give to their family, friends or favourite care workers.
Other events that are common around this time of year include visits from community groups and Christmas concerts performed at your facility by local choirs, bands or school children.
And what facility wouldn’t host a tasty Christmas lunch?
A hot lunch on Christmas day with some traditional trimmings – think roasted potatoes or turkey with cranberry sauce – and maybe soft Christmas music in the background will bring a smile to residents’ faces and make the shift more pleasant for staff.
Do you dress up for work during December? If your managers allow it, you might like to wear a green or red shirt with a festive theme, a Christmas hat or headband and accessories such as novelty earrings.
To go all out, you could even order some Christmas-patterned scrubs!
On Christmas Day, residents might like to mark the occasion by wearing their Sunday Best, a Christmas hat, a bright hairpin, a brooch or a pair of Christmas slippers.
Whether it’s with decorations, cards, activities or dressing up, having support to meaningfully celebrate the holiday season from staff that are caring for them will have a big impact on aged care residents.
Remember not all residents will celebrate Christmas.
Some residents may have different cultural or religious beliefs and it is still your responsibility to support these residents during the festive season – whether they wish to take part or not.
If you have groups of residents from other cultural or religious backgrounds it might be possible to hold activities that are more specific to what they will engage with.
Whether they are celebrating Christmas or not, all residents need to have the opportunity to feel included in lifestyle programs and be supported to socially connect with others.
The best idea is to ask the resident, or their family if necessary, about what their beliefs and cultural practices are so that you can continue to support them.
How will your aged care facility celebrate this festive season? Tell us in the comments below.