Scottish tunes fill the walls of Midlothian care home

A local Edinburgh bagpiper has been moving care home residents to tears with nostalgic melodies.

The musical visit from piper, Matt McKelvie, was organised by dedicated care home staff at Mansfield Care’s Pine Villa in Loanhead after putting up a notice on social media.

Playing traditional Scottish melodies such as ‘Scotland the Brave’ and ‘Highland Cathedral’, the young Edinburgh piper is now returning for his second gig.

Matt McKelvie said: “I saw that Pine Villa was looking for a musician on social media and thought playing the bagpipes for care home residents sounded great.

“As things are getting back to normal and people start to socialise more, I think events like these are so important, as they brighten up residents’ days and they get to enjoy something a bit different from their usual routine.

“It was a lovely event, everyone really enjoyed themselves! Residents were dancing away and laughing, it was great.  

“One of the residents used to be a minister for the Church of Scotland, so he asked me to play ‘Amazing Grace’ for him. It was truly heart-warming seeing his face light up when he heard the song.”

At 8 years old, Matt started private lessons at the Army School of Bagpipe Music and Highland Drumming at Redford Barracks.

His early passion for music was ignited by his grandfather who used to be a drum major for ‘The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders’ and has been a leading role model and inspiration.

The young bagpiper added: “The best part for me was the way I made the residents feel, seeing them enjoy my playing truly makes me happy.

“I mainly have been playing at weddings and funerals, but after visiting Pine Villa, I am hoping that will change soon and I can play at a broader variety of events and celebrations.”

Originally a hobby Matt is seeking to play full-time after he completes his higher education at Glasgow National Piping Centre.

Denise Williams, manager at Pine Villa, said: “Our residents had an amazing time listening to Matt and it was a delight to see them enjoying themselves and are looking forward to having him play again.”

Operating 11 care homes across Edinburgh Borders and west of Scotland, Mansfield care is designed to provide bespoke care to an exceptional standard with state-of-the-art facilities.

Specialising in unique small, friendly residential / nursing care homes, staff work under an ethos that is inspired by the kind of care we would wish for ourselves in later life – supportive, friendly, bright, positive, empathetic, respectful and homely.

The highly trained staff ensure a commitment and continuity of care to each resident with a dedicated home manager and wellbeing coordinator to plan activities according to resident’s wishes.

Blackwood assembles team of maintenance heroes

A Scottish housing and care provider has launched a one of a kind maintenance program to blitz through housing repairs and a welcome return to meeting with customers in their neighbourhoods.

Blackwood Housing and Care has introduced ‘Hit Squad’ teams where experts from different disciplines will set out on a tour of 34 developments across Scotland to identify and complete repairs.

The idea emerged during lockdown to easily allow customers to voice their concerns and tackle overdue maintenance that was on hold due to restrictions when works were not possible.

After contacting customers through lockdown with welfare calls, staff are keen to get back out to developments and engage with people and ask what is important to them and what would have a positive impact in their environment.

Alex Burns, Asset Officer for Blackwood said: “We’re going to be taking on the ‘Tour de Blackwood’ which will include visiting our developments across the country and working through wide range of repairs.

“Improvements will include cleaning, landscaping, gardening, renewing lobby carpets and generally helping to brighten up the development and ensure they are up to our high standards.

“Starting from the simpler jobs such as a painting the walls to larger scale projects, we’ll look to document and plan all repairs resulting in nothing being missed.

“It’s a great opportunity not only to prevent any potential problems but also gives us a chance to speak directly with customers and hear first-hand what they would like.

“We’re really happy that we have very active customer participation and I find the work truly rewarding as it’s an opportunity to show we are a team working toward the same goal of providing top quality housing and care.”

Alex and the team were on board as soon as the idea emerged of creating Hit Squads, with a drive to implement a consistent maintenance plan across all Blackwood homes and engage with customers directly.

Alex added: “The Hit Squad scheme undertakes additional inspections so that we can maintain all properties and identify innovations that may be appropriate.

“Each team is made up of members from different disciplines such as innovations, housing and marketing – it’s great to have such a diverse group on board.”

Blackwood has a longstanding history of creating quality, innovative, and accessible homes to create homes that people of all ages and mobility levels can enjoy.

The charity aims to help people live their life to the full, by providing services which support them to live independently.

As Blackwood works in 29 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities, it is more widely dispersed than most other care or housing providers and has used its investment in innovation in design and technology, combined with great staff teams, to offer more choice and control to customers across Scotland.

Renaissance Care Olympics are a winner at Forres Care Home

Meadowlark Care Home residents have put Forres on the map as the home can now boast an array of Olympic athletes.

Following weeks of gentle training, residents from care homes across the country teamed up to compete in the first ever Renaissance Care Olympics in a bid to better their physical and mental wellness. The 15 care homes battled for victory in five categories; Pitch n Putt, 400m walking, seated volleyball, boxing and beanbag throwing, with resounding success for one Forres care home.

Staff at Renaissance Care’s Meadowlark went the extra distance for their Olympians, arranging for music, dancing and Asian cuisine at both opening and closing ceremonies, with celebrations rivalling those in Tokyo. The activities were found to be so popular, that the care home plan to continue their walking, boxing and Pitch n Putt challenges long after the competition ends.

Despite the age range of the Meadowlark Olympic team spanning from 70 to 98, the contest allowed for many firsts within the home. Many of the female athletes had never tried boxing before, but it has since become one of the most popular activities within the home. For others, it was an opportunity to reconnect with hobbies from their past, as with one resident who fondly reflected on her days spent with a walking group as she grafted to rack up the most 400m walking stints throughout July.

With the majority of residents joining in the fun and games, staff reported an extraordinary difference in the fitness and stamina of residents. Amongst those who benefitted was Ian Macdonald, a keen walker with improved mobility following the challenge.

Derra Kew, Activities Co-ordinator at Renaissance Care’s Meadowlark Care Home, said: “The difference in our residents has been phenomenal. After a year where energy levels have been low, the Renaissance Care Olympics has given Meadowlark the boost that we all needed.

“Throughout lockdown, we’ve had to be creative when planning activities, and since we always encourage gentle exercise, this seemed like the perfect idea. I’m very proud of everyone’s efforts – bring on Paris 2024!”

Amongst Meadowlark’s participants in the Renaissance Care Olympics was 74-year-old Ian MacDonald. Born in Tomatin, near Inverness, Ian is the oldest of five, and is also a twin. His father worked on the railways and farmed his whole life, while his mother had her hands full looking after four sons and one daughter at home.

Growing up, Ian left school aged 16 to work in a local distillery as a malt man, before joining the army to later become a tank operator. It was in this period of his life which he met his wife Elizabeth, a care assistant. Ian said of his lifelong love: “I met her at a dance and we’ve been dancing ever since”.

Aside from dancing, Ian has recently been trying a whole host of new activities at Meadowlark Care Home through the Renaissance Care Olympic Games.

He said: “I loved cycling and hunting as a young man, so the Olympics were very good for helping me rediscover my passion for sport. I really liked the ‘putting’ and have enjoyed keeping up with my walking too. I used to walk to the lounge and back, but now I’m able to walk round the garden, and even further afield.”

“In my younger years, I had many different jobs, and have been lucky to travel a fair bit too. I was stationed in West Germany for a number of years, where my daughters Sarah and Wendy were born. I have many fond memories of my time there, but then we moved back home to Cawdor where I returned to my farming roots. I then went on to work in a distillery, where I worked with my twin brother Andrew, before becoming a lorry driver for McArthur Haulage.

“I’d been working as a lorry driver for about six years, when I was in a serious accident and hit my head badly. A passing lorry driver saved my life, if he hadn’t called the ambulance I wouldn’t be here today. I spent a whole year in hospital recovering.

“I’ve now lived at Meadowlark since 2018, and the Olympics has been the biggest hit with residents yet, and it has improved my health and fitness tenfold. I even joke with the staff that I’m training to run away from them, due to my increased mobility and confidence. That’s worth more than a gold medal if you ask me!”

Older people Go4Gold in Perth and Kinross

Older people in Perth and Kinross have shown their Olympic spirit by taking part in a care home challenge event to highlight the importance of physical activity.

Hollywood actor Brian Cox and Deputy First Minister John Swinney are among those who sent their good wishes to residents from care homes and day centres across the region taking part in the ninth annual Go4Gold event in Perth and Kinross.

Around 400 residents from 30 care settings have been trying their hand at various games and challenges throughout the past week.

The event has previously taken place at Bells Sports Centre in Perth but this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, each care setting have run their own in-house Go4Gold event. This has meant that a larger number of residents could participate and experience the fun and excitement of Go4Gold.

The participants took part in various physical challenges including a golf putting challenges, skittles picking up objects of nature and a goal scoring target.

Each care setting also enjoyed a video introduction to their events welcoming them and getting them into the spirit with a warm up activity and an Olympic coverage style studio chat.

In the weeks before the event, staff and residents from each care home also created posters reflecting this year’s Go4Gold theme of ‘Walking with Nature’.

An award ceremony was held virtually on Tuesday, 31 August where all the participants were presented with certificates and medals for the teams. Winning teams also received a trophy. The virtual ceremony also included filmed messages from actor Brian Cox and Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

Go4Gold was organised by the Perth & Kinross Care Home Activity Network (CHAN), in partnership with Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, Scottish Care, Live Active Leisure, Paths for All, the third sector and local care homes.

The event aims to increase physical activity levels for all care home residents in a fun and meaningful way.

Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership Falls Service Manager Carolyn Wilson said, “The past 18 months have been particularly challenging for all of our care homes. The usual annual care home games challenge Go4Gold held at Bells Sports Centre was impossible but we wanted to still recreate Go4Gold, particularly with the 2020 Olympics running this summer.

“It’s fantastic to see so many homes participating and the residents really entering into the competitive spirit with enthusiasm and excitement. Go4Gold demonstrates that everyone can exercise in some way and offers a lasting legacy promoting physical activity. It goes to prove that even the frailest in our society can come together, participate in physical activity and above all have fun.”

Gordon Paterson, Chief Officer of the Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnership, said, “Given the difficulties and challenges our care homes have had to overcome, delivering the competition this year was really important to us.

“It’s been fantastic to see everything they have been getting up to and the energy with which they have approached the competition. While it has been a challenge to bring it all together in a safe and appropriate manner, the enthusiastic and positive response we have seen really goes to show that with the right support in place, we can empower people of any age to stay healthy, active and involved in maintaining their quality of life.”

“It’s great that so many of our Care Homes and Residents are taking part this year, especially given the prolonged period of uncertainty and unprecedented challenges that out Homes have faced across the last 16 months due to COVID-19. Care home staff have been fantastic in stepping up an enabling so many people to take part in the activities and it really is a testament to their compassion and dedication that we have been able to involve nearly 400 residents from all across Perth and Kinross in this year’s competition.”

Residents enjoy a summer of horticulture

Green-fingered pensioners at an Edinburgh care home are being treated to a summer full of activities designed to get them interacting with nature.

As an antidote to the cold weather and darkness of lockdown, the city’s finest care home, Cramond Residence’s Head of Maintenance, Billy Early, built new accessible planters, alongside a programme of events.

Sessions are planned for residents to plant bulbs, and create signage and labels for the garden which residents can enjoy during their independent and supported walks around the grounds.

The Lifestyle Team makes use of plants from the verdant gardens where possible, which are maintained all year round. During the pandemic, restrictions have at times limited the ability for residents to fully enjoy the outdoor space.

Christian Daraio, one of the dedicated team at the 74-room modern care home in Edinburgh, said: “There is a real sense of optimism growing here as lockdown continues to ease and it is perfect timing to focus more on our lovely gardens and expand our horizons again.

“We have many green thumbed gardening enthusiasts at Cramond Residence. Thanks to our new easily accessible planters, all residents with a keen interest in gardening have been able to get involved.

“The home has also been able to welcome family and friends back into the grounds so I’m sure our residents will take great pride in being able to help add a touch of colour to the home too.

“Gardening is a hugely beneficial way to keep our elderly residents mobile and active whilst doing something they enjoy in the fresh air.”

The care home is made up of nine small bubble group living facilities with up to eight bedrooms, a private lounge, dining and snug facilities. When necessary, residents can be cared for in small groups using the self-contained facilities.

Cramond Residence offers high quality care for up to 74 residents offering a small-group living concept in nine houses, with all residents enjoying an exceptional range of amenities and activities, delicious food and bespoke care from our highly-trained team.

Meallmore Olympics 2021

27 Meallmore teams from across Scotland came together to compete in the Meallmore Olympics 2021.

The games were opened to three categories of teams within the Meallmore Group. These were:

  • Staff teams
  • Residents from specialist homes
  • Residents from care of the elderly homes.

The teams had to design and decorate their own flags, create and sing their own personal national anthem for their team, decide on a resident captain and agree on a suitable team name.

All the teams then participated in four Olympic events over four days. These events consisted of:

  • Come fly with me – paper aeroplane design and flying competition.
  • Basketball challenge – throwing ping pong balls into a basket, the person with the most balls into the basket in the shortest time was the winner.
  • Laundry triathlon  – folding clothes, the person who folded a cross section of clothes in the shortest period of time was the winner
  • Synchronised hoovering

The event concluded on Sunday with a celebration and special meal in all of the care homes. Winners were also awarded for all the categories above.

The team winning the most categories and thus attaining the most points was awarded Meallmore Champions 2021.

This year the Meallmore Care of the Elderly Olympic Champions are Belleaire House in Greenock and the Meallmore Specialist Care Home Olympic Champions are Daviot Care Home in the Highlands (the Drumboe Unit).

Please find the links below to the Meallmore Olympics 2021 opening and closing ceremony:

Meallmore Olympics 2021 – Opening Ceremony

Meallmore Olympics 2021 – Closing Ceremony 

This is the second year running that Meallmore has run this event within all their homes. On both occasion this has been a huge success for all of the residents and staff.

Huge thanks to Meallmore for sharing this story, looks like a lot of fun!

Care residents enjoy their favourite sarnies at old fashioned picnic weekend

Residents at a care home in Melrose enjoyed the sunshine with their loved ones with an old fashioned picnic weekend.  

The 1940s and 50s inspired picnic was organised by staff members at Mansfield Care’s St John’s care home who wanted to go the extra mile to ensure its residents were making the most of the long summer days. 

 Staff members invited residents’ family and friends for an afternoon of food, drinks and live entertainment. 

Alison Grant, 54, Care Home Manager at St John’s, said: 

“The weather has been beautiful so we decided to organise a traditional picnic with gingham table cloths, as well as all the scones and small sandwiches that they would’ve had in those days. 

 “Along with their tasty sandwiches our residents and visitors enjoyed strawberries and cream, champagne, wine and drinks. 

 “Everyone really enjoyed themselves. We even had an entertainer who performed all the old classics from the era, recreating the feeling of that time.”  

Each year Mansfield Care organises a garden party for each of the care homes, but due to lockdown restrictions, invitations could not be distributed as far and wide as usual. 

Despite a number of challenges, staff at St John’s took the initiative to organise the perfect summer picnic for its residents and family members.  

Alison added: “Usually we send out invitations to the Care Inspectorate, social workers and local residents of our community who are often around in the homes, but due to the restrictions it had to be a bit smaller this year, so we decided to have a picnic day instead.  

“We just wanted to do something special this summer for our residents, and their family and friends.” 

Alison joined St John’s as a care manager in April this year, bringing her vision and fresh ideas to the care home, supporting both residents and their family members.  

Audrey Graham, a resident at St John’s, said: “It was just a marvellous day.”  

Operating 11 care homes across Edinburgh Borders and west of Scotland, Mansfield care is designed to provide bespoke care to an exceptional standard with state-of-the-art facilities.  

Specialising in unique small, friendly residential / nursing care homes, staff work under an ethos that is inspired by the kind of care we would wish for ourselves in later life – supportive, friendly, bright, positive, empathetic, respectful and homely.  

The highly trained staff ensure a commitment and continuity of care to each resident with a dedicated home manager and wellbeing coordinator to plan activities according to resident’s wishes.  


Redeem Exchange

The Redeem Exchange team came up with a simple yet innovative idea to reduce plastic waste in the shape and form of empty hand sanitiser bottles. We offer a collect, wash, refill and return service for empty bottles to help save the environment whilst keeping those around us safe.

Redeem Exchange launched because of COVID-19, and the increased number of (very much needed) plastic bottles in circulation – and we were involved in this, as we ourselves were producing hand sanitiser for the NHS.

These bottles are usually thrown away, and very few make it to be recycled. We realised we could reuse bottles and keep them in circulation longer, which helps also to reduce costs would you believe! A win for everyone!

The Scottish Government, NHS NSS, and Zero Waste Scotland have supported us to bring this Redeem Exchange to where we are today, and we now have capacity to run this programme across Scotland. The most exciting part is what we learn, and what goes on behind the scenes. We get to know all our customers incredibly well through this process, and as we are a non-profit social enterprise, we get to support local communities where it’s needed.

Our main hub is in Greenock, but as we grow, we will work with our network to open hubs throughout Scotland. This will provide jobs for people living in SIMD areas. We have designed an employability programme for those who join us, giving them valuable skills and knowledge to reach their full potential.

We have big plans to make our world better for future generations both environmentally and socially. It is an exciting time for Redeem Exchange – we wanted to share this, and some positive feedback we received recently. AND, if you would like to get in touch to hear more, you can contact Bev on [email protected] or call 07901 427 190.

“Our service has used Redeem exchange as a means to reduce the environmental impact of used plastics, this sits very well with our wider organisational goals on sustainability. The local connection is also valuable to us in having a local point of contact and easy to access service for what is an essential PPE product for staff”Richmond Fellowship

And we have a superhero – nearly forgot to mention that!!

 *The photo above was taken last year, prior to the need to wear face masks in a work environment.

Independent and 3rd Sector Workforce Development within Dumfries & Galloway



The Covid -19 Virus has now developed with a new highly transmissible strain and a third wave has affected our communities. National and local lockdown measures have increased once again and, the risk to our HSCP social care teams has increased even further. There has been an ongoing recognition and fear within Dumfries & Galloway social care management teams that there needs to be a network established to ensure the support of their staff teams and ultimately the continued provision of services to the most vulnerable members of our community. It was understood the reliance of support from our NHS colleagues was untenable due to acute services being at their capacity and management of the vaccine rollout. To mitigate risk management to the social care sector, to protect individuals accessing the services and to protect the NHS services a test of change was required.

At multiple meetings involving the partners of the Independent and 3rd Sector Workforce Development Team, the Care Inspectorate and SSSC both at National and Local level, the HSCP of Dumfries and Galloway, National Workforce and Policy Lead and the Transforming Workforce Lead for Scottish Care, it was agreed that the development of a ‘Rapid Response Network’ was necessary and essential. Some of our Social Care providers had experienced and are experiencing large numbers of staff and at times whole teams being taken out of service due to Sickness, Test and Protect as well as isolation and shielding purposes. This increased the potential for a higher incident risk across the sector and ultimately placing more pressure on an already stretched NHS. It was established that there needed to be a system put in place to maintain the provision of a basic service to individuals in need of care. This provision of care can be provided by trained staff already working within the social care sector and across Dumfries and Galloway. Specialist providers, Care at Home and Care home managers, area and regional managers and directors have agreed to support one another during these unprecedented times. Subsequently, the Care Inspectorate, SSSC and D&G HSCP have agreed this essential service can be delivered.

This model will utilise existing staff to support the workforce and to minimize risk to patient care due to reduced workforce, by allowing providers to work flexibly with one another. This model is only for use in emergency situations and when the providers own contingency plans have been exhausted. A review of this pilot model could potentially consider options to support Home Teams with a rapid response from the social care sector. In order to access this Network providers have to be contracted with the HSCP and sign a Memorandum of Understanding agreeing to the terms. Providers are expected to follow the guidance regarding Infection Control measures in order to mitigate risk of infection.


In September 2019, Scottish Care initiated Strategic Independent, Third Sector Workforce Forum, supported by Vic McDade, NHS Sustainability and Development Manager.  This forum was developed initially to bring social care providers together to work collaboratively with partners, to explore opportunities to expand the Social Care workforce, raise the profile of Social Care across Dumfries and Galloway and share experiences. It was also hoping to develop positive public perception and to evidence Career Pathways within health and social care.  This group split into a Short Life Working Group to consider an emergency response to the rapid rise in Covid cases and met on several occasions to discuss a model of support for one another.

In December 2020, guidance was published by COSLA and Scot Gov (2020) regarding financial support for social care providers. This document contains information to support the ‘potential for staff to deliver another service/support temporarily’. The guidance states that there should be collaborative working between providers and commissioners in order to facilitate a clear understanding of what is required.

It is envisaged that once this network has been established it will be able to provide support across the social care services for any emergencies when they arise. With the potential, if successful, for a National Framework to be developed. It is hoped that this collaboration of teams across Dumfries & Galloway will strengthen the social care services for the future. This proposed model also covers many of the points from the ‘9 Pillars of Integrated Care’ including ‘workforce capacity and capability’, ‘shared values and vision’ and ‘system wide governance and leadership’ (International Foundation for Integrated Care, 2020).

Pet therapy helps care home residents enjoy a ‘paws’ in their week

Animal-loving pensioners at a city centre care home have been enjoying pet therapy sessions for more than a decade, thanks to dedicated staff and resident pup, Sophie.

Staff at Belleville Lodge in Edinburgh recognised how much joy and comfort the sessions brought to their elderly residents and made the decision to ensure they could continue throughout the pandemic.

During the sessions, residents reminisce about their pets over the years, cuddle up with Sophie, the resident west highland terrier, and look at pictures of animals and nature, while sharing stories in small groups.

The carers have found pet therapy has amazing benefits for residents with and without dementia, from increased mood and social interaction to improved nutrition and physical activity. It’s also a fun activity for residents who can share their pet histories and find out interesting facts about different animals.

Margaret Russell, Matron at the home operated by Mansfield Care, said: “We find the sessions are excellent for our residents wellbeing and spirits. Before the pandemic we had two other dogs who visited regularly, a black lab called Orchid and a border terrier named Ruff, who residents are looking forward to reuniting with when it’s safe to do so.

“Anyone with a pet will know just how relaxing and calming spending time with an animal can be. As well as relieving the feelings of loneliness and isolation, pets can reduce stress, lower blood pressure and promote a sense of overall wellbeing.

“With such a powerful range of physical and mental benefits, it’s not surprising that pet therapy is being introduced into many care homes to improve the lives of elderly people and dementia patients across the UK.

“Even when a resident has advanced dementia, you can see the change in their face and the comfort they find when petting a dog – their faces completely light up as they stretch out their arms to welcome them.

“We’ve found it so important to keep activities that residents enjoy going throughout the pandemic, so we have made sure to incorporate pets and animals into our activity programme.

“When we couldn’t physically welcome any pets into our lounge area, we would download pictures of our residents favourite animals for our residents to talk about.

“Everyone thoroughly enjoys hearing one another’s stories and leaves the sessions feeling happy – which is the main reason why we have our extensive activity programme.”

Belleville Lodge offers space for up to 25 residents, including some twin rooms, in the heart of Edinburgh.

Mansfield Care operates 11 care homes across Edinburgh, Borders and the West of Scotland, specialising in small homes which offer bespoke, friendly care and boast state of the art facilities.

The care provider specialises in small, friendly, residential care homes across Edinburgh, Borders and West of Scotland, providing individualised care in state of the art facilities.

The Mansfield Care ethos is inspired by the kind of care many would wish for later in life – positive, empathetic, respectful and homely.

To find out more about Mansfield Care visit,