Robyn Taylor: The Love of Friendship

When I speak to the older generation, they say they never really celebrated Valentine’s Day. However, in care homes I like to celebrate this occasion, as it’s a good theme to base activities on throughout February, especially when you interpret the sharing of love as a more inclusive activity.

You must be careful not go to overboard – Valentine’s Day can be painful for some, and may bring back the grieving process of the loss of a life partner. Try instead to focus on the fact that Valentines is also about expressing feelings to someone you love, and you can adapt the event in your care home to celebrate the love of friendship.

Fast Friendships: A twist on speed dating, gather the residents together, two per table, to socialise, after five minutes ring the bell and then they move and socialise with the next table. Use The Daily Sparkle to prompt conversation, or make your own topic cards. This activity may be the beginning of some blossoming friendships!

Married Couples: Organise a special meal for any married couples in your home. Can the chef prepare their favourite dishes? Decorate the dining area like an elegant restaurant. It can be hard when your husband/wife is in care, so any opportunity for a sense of normality in their lives will be appreciated.

Different Connections: You could also choose to celebrate other loves too – such as parenthood, and invite in children, siblings, friendships or even the staff. Maybe a key staff member could have a meal with a resident who they have a special bond with.

Themed Events: Other activities that could take place could include romantic movie nights, poetry readings, dances, quiz nights. Just adapt your regular activities into something magical and warm.

Little Extras: Then, on the run up to 14 February, you can make decorations for the home (always save and re-use in years to come), but don’t go overboard. Maybe decorate one lounge, so residents don’t have the reminder everywhere, and can get away if needed. This commercial holiday will be all over the papers and television, so decorating every communal room may be a little insensitive to some. Then again, some residents may thrive in the excitement and want their bedroom decorating. You will know your residents and what they look forward to.

Reminiscence Session: On the other hand, many of the elderly generation want to enjoy and embrace this time with the memories they have. Allow those residents to bring photographs to a reminiscence session. “Better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all.” You could make this light-hearted if you’re worried about the residents’ emotions, i.e. what’s the most embarrassing thing your husband has done? What things did you have to nag about? Give me some advice on how to keep a happy wife?

Sending Cards and Flowers: You could send cards to the residents, but think carefully about what message you are writing inside, a selection of colourful flowers tied in a ribbon always goes down a treat. (rather than a typical red rose).

Finally: Why not hold a charity event for the British Heart Foundation, those who do not want to think of themselves at this moment in time, can work together to help others?

Happy Valentine’s Day!