On Thursday 17 December, staff, managers and residents from East Ayrshire care homes took part in two virtual celebratory events organised by Val Allen (Independent Sector Lead East Ayrshire, Scottish Care), East Ayrshire HSCP and East Ayrshire Council Vibrant Communities. They also organised wellbeing gift bags to be sent to all care home staff in the area. This pack included a thank you poem, some mindful quotes, information on wellbeing support and hand-painted pebbles that were painted by local groups and schools.
The celebratory events started with an Intelligence Kindness zoom session for care home managers and staff. This session was led by Tommy Whitelaw (Carers Voice, Alliance Scotland) who thanked everyone in the care homes for all the amazing work that they do. During this session, Tommy spoke beautiful words, reminding staff of the importance of kindness and the need to be kind and take care of themselves. It was an emotional half-hour, with tears flowing amongst the audience and ended with a huge round of applause to everyone on the call.
East Ayrshire Council Vibrant Communities then hosted a live Facebook virtual Christmas Tea Dance in collaboration with Dumfries House, Cumnock. Tea dances have been a popular event at Dumfries House before the Covid-19 pandemic, to combat isolation and reduce loneliness in the community. The move to a virtual Christmas tea dance allowed care home residents to tune in from East Ayrshire and further afield.
Residents and staff from Torrance Lodge and Crossgate enjoyed cream teas from the Dumfries House Cook School. These care homes also took part in the festivities and were live-streamed during the event. Residents gathered, singing, dancing and clapping their hands to the entertainment. We were able to listen to residents reminisce about their times at previous Dumfries House’s tea dances as well.
This event was hosted by John Reid (Elvis Impersonator and East Ayrshire Council’s Wellbeing Development Officer – Older People) and Jim McMahon (Councillor for Cumnock & New Cumnock) who both performed a few songs.
Musical entertainers from across the nation were also featured, including Meredith McCrindle, Edward Reid, Christy Mac & Steve Bishop, Lee Aaron King, Marie King, Daddy Cool, John George, Jai McDowall, and Sarah Laing.
The audience also heard from some speakers such as Prince Charles, the First Minister and Shiona Johnston and Meghan Miller from Dumfries House.
These events were a much-needed festive cheer at a difficult time for our care homes. What a great way to lift spirits and express gratitude to all the care home staff during the festive period. Well done to everyone involved for making it such a successful day and huge thanks again to all the care home staff out there!
On the day, Val Allen, Independent Sector Lead for East Ayrshire, said:
“I’ve been immensely proud to support both the care homes and care at home in East Ayrshire as Independent Sector Lead. It’s been an exceptionally difficult year for everyone in the care sector. Providing support to services for me, has always been about supporting those who support others. Each and every one of our staff have worked difficult and very long hours supporting the most vulnerable people in our communities and they need to be reminded to look after themselves. Self-care is so important if they are to continue to do so. They need to know how much respect we all have for them and how much we value what they do, every single day.
When the rest of us are in bed having a long lie on a Sunday morning or enjoying opening our Christmas gifts – if Santa manages to get PPE to pay us a visit – our social care staff will have already started their shift and ensuring others have a happy and well cared for day. The team who put together the bags and hampers have worked long hours putting together the bags but they all did this to extend the beautiful hand of kindness to our care homes. In difficult times, such as a pandemic we appreciate the wonderful relationships which we have in East Ayrshire and with partners such as Tommy Whitelaw. As you heard me say earlier, I spent Christmas eve last year in a care home in East Ayrshire singing and dancing with Tommy, staff and residents. Sadly we can’t do that this year but I can tell you I cant wait to do it again very soon. For me, its been way too long since I was in care homes. Today was the next best thing for me.”