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Latest News

We love telling the world what we’re up to, so keep checking back for new articles about our goings-on, activities, events and outings. To stay up to date with everything going on in our residential care home in Gerrards Cross, be sure to follow us on Facebook!

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May Updates

What a wet month, we had so much rain and no sunshine. We had a few birthday celebrations, said our goodbyes to colleagues and welcomed back some of our entertainers. It was ‘Dying Matters Week’ 10-16th May. We talk about this every year so we can discuss our feelings, hopes and memories. We are very diverse at Swarthmore, so we engage in a very interesting discussion about Christian faith, Muslim, Quaker, Catholic, rituals and traditions in Poland, Pakistan and the Philippines. We asked each other lots of questions and learned a bit more about all faiths, practice, and rituals. Amersham museum brought lots of items that encourages our residents to talk about their working life and memories. Its lovely to hear stories and learn about their life stories. We welcomed back our pianist and one of our singers. It was lovely to have entertainment in the home and our residents thoroughly enjoyed a dance and sing song together.  We also had music in the pod with Anne and a friend, they played their violins to some of our residents. Lots of new craft sessions have been introduced by Jeanette and we look forward to hearing whats on the horizon for June. We have said our goodbyes to Jess one of superhero carers’ and Tony who was our Accountant. We wish them both well in their new roles.…

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Pet Therapy

Brief History of Pet Therapy Nearly half of all UK households own a pet, with numbers increasing during the pandemic. A recent poll through a social networking website found that when we feel down, half of us would rather hug a pet than a relative! This fact alone shows that pets offer us comfort and companionship. Various kinds of animals provide therapeutic benefits. Dogs have proven to be particularly effective at providing comfort to those in physical and emotional distress.In England, as far back as the 1700's, the Quakers recognised the positive effects animals could have on ill patients. They began introducing animals to 'enhance the humanity of the emotionally ill' for people suffering with mental health issues whilst residing at The Retreat in York. Examples of how pets have contributed through difficult times: .   During the Second World War, Smoky, a female terrier, was found abandoned on the battlefield. Her new owner, Corporal William Wynne, was recovering     in hospital from a jungle disease. Smoky was taken to his bedside by his friends to see if he could be cheered up. These visits along with visits to other     injured soldiers became so popular that Smoky became a therapy dog for the next 12 years.   In 1970, an American nurse based in the UK named Elaine Smith noticed that the local chaplain was accompanied by a golden retriever when visiting     patients. She recognised the difference this made to patients during recovery. When Nurse Smith moved back to the US, she started an organisation     called 'Therapy Dogs International'. As a result of this development, a charity called 'Pets as Therapy' is today's leading UK provider of animals in hospitals, care homes, nursing homes and hospices. This organisation was founded in 1983, and since then, it has worked with over 20,000 dogs to provide therapeutic visits to thousands of patients and care home residents. 'Pets as Therapy' currently have around 4,500 dogs and 108 cats who visit more than 130,000 people every week. Pet Therapy at SwarthmoreOur 'Pets as Therapy' dog 'Thula' has been visiting Swarthmore for around 3 years with her owner Didi. How it all began – Didi's daughter came up with the idea as she also had dogs, so Didi decided she would also put her dog forward as a therapy dog. A range of tests were carried out to determine whether the dog was suitable. Didi immediately thought that 'Thula' had failed. The assessment was at an assessor's home and she had just baked fresh bread. Of course, Thula loves food, so her senses took over! Use your imagination to think what happened next!! However, to Didi's surprise 'Thula' passed the assessment with flying colours, so the hunt was on to find a care home to visit. Didi was a nurse working in a hospital and came across information about care homes looking for pet therapy for their residents. Finding a care home was not an easy task, so Didi knocked on the doors of Swarthmore and was directed up to our Activities Co-ordinator to discuss. It was one of those coincidental moments that Ann-Marie and her colleague were discussing pet therapy and in walks Didi with the offer of a PAT dog. Neither of them could believe the way the opportunity came together. Thula is a collie-cross poodle, a gorgeous bundle of fluff. He is so placid and intelligent. At home, he is always on the go; he can be noisy too! He lets you know when he wants something, and he knows exactly when it is time to walk. His personality changes when visiting the home, his instincts kick in, and he is very placid. Thula is a trained agility dog who has won a number of awards in competitions. He only visits 'Swarthmore’ residents as a PAT dog. We have all become very attached. Visiting once a week is such a treat for everyone, with visits to individual rooms and communal areas. He will happily sit on laps, lay next to residents who cannot leave their bed, and happily sit by your side whilst you stroke him. Thula brings happiness and relaxation to the home. The minute he walks into a room, you can see the residents face light up. It is quite an emotional experience for anyone to see. It is also a reminiscence experience for people as it brings back memories of their pets or experiences in life. Some residents have become more and more confident with him over the years, which is also a positive change. One of our residents enjoys walking around the home with Thula to visit residents, creating a social experience and allowing them to pet the dog and talk amongst themselves.  Ann Marie’s pockets are always full of treats for him too. We really value Didi and Thula as part of the Swarthmore family, and look forward to many more visits. Statistics show the benefits of using Pet Therapy. Have a read of some interesting facts to consider if you would like to home a dog or cat for an elderly relative or considering pet therapy.     The experience of petting a dog or cat can reduce the amount of medication some people require; statistics show that people become less anxious as their breathing slows down. One of the hormones released from our body produces Phenylethylamine (PEA). This is the compound found in chocolate. It is thought to have positive effects on our mood, which acts as an anti-depressant. Still a nice treat but not as tasty as chocolate!.    For anyone having difficulty responding or able to connect with people, a connection is always made with a cat or dog, which brings a positive result..    Decreases the feeling of isolation and loneliness. A dog or cat fills a void..    Comforting and reduces boredom – allows you to go for walks, gives a sense of responsibility. .    It gives the motivation to recover from an illness much faster..    Encouraging body movement and increases our motor skills..    Statistics show that heart patients anxiety levels dropped by 24% when visited by a pet and their owner, with epinephrine levels (a hormone the body makes when under stress), dropping by up to 17%. If you would like to discover more details about pet therapy, please visit their website: https://petsastherapy.org/…

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Re-cap on April at Swarthmore 

April brought lots of sunshine and no showers!!! We welcomed two new members of staff to Swarthmore. Peter Hall, Maintenance & Facilities Co-ordinator and Jeanette White, Activities Co-ordinator. We wish them both well in their roles. A round up of activities for the month Reminiscing years gone by with articles from The Amersham Museum. The residents spent an afternoon discussing articles and their packaging, how things have changed! A copy of an old newspaper which celebrated the wedding pictures of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. We talked about the changes in product design, products used and luxury items we ate in years gone by. April was the month for moving and grooving. We spent lots of time working on exercises with our residents. Lots of genius ways to keep moving – such as ball exercises, cycling machines whilst watching a tour through the countryside, band exercises and armchair stretches. We are all feeling fit and healthy after a busy month thanks to Ann-Marie and Jeanette. Our living eggs were very successful, and we all enjoyed watching the chick’s progress. Easter was celebrated with a visit from the Easter Bunny (Avril) and enjoyed by all. We all enjoyed the donations of chocolate – thank you again to everyone. We have explored so many experiences over the last year through technology. Activities brought a virtual tour around the country to celebrate St Georges Day. The tour took us to Brecon Beacons, Stonehenge, and sights around London. Jeanette was the bus driver, Ann-Marie the tour guide. The afternoon finished with a quiz and a cream tea. How delicious and enjoyable.We are looking forward to the warmer weather so we can sit outside and admire our beautiful garden. The magnolia tree is coming to the end of the flowering season, we are now waiting for the wisteria and rhododendrons to bloom. Looking forward to warmer days. …

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Easter 

Oh what a happy time and the weather was perfect too. The residents decorated the home with an array of flowers for Easter.  The garden is starting to bloom with camellia's, magnolia and daffodils, we are so fortunate to have beautiful grounds to admire.Easter was celebrated with lots of chocolate delivered to all the residents, by our own Easter bunnies - Avril being the main star.  Easter bonnets were decorated with the help of the care team and worn by our lovely ladies.  A lovely afternoon tea was enjoyed by everyone with lots of donations from our local Waitrose store.  Thank you once again for your generosity.  We also enjoyed watching our chicks hatch over Easter.  This was an interesting week of being glued to watching the eggs hatch, watching in suspense whilst they hatched in the incubator.  Ann Marie was extra busy this week looking after the chicks and entertaining our residents.  This was a great project for everyone to watch throughout the week, lots of smiles and new conversations were had by all.   Happy Easter from Swarthmore.  …

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Month for Moving and Grooving 

It's the year for Moving and Grooving Swarthmore supports the campaign to increase physical activity amongst our residents NAPA (the National Activities Provider Association) supports a campaign within the care sector, known as the Year of Moving and Grooving, to prioritise physical activity and psychological and social wellbeing. Regular exercise increases our heart rate, which changes the way we breathe. Deeper breaths allow more oxygen into our bloodstream, removing more carbon dioxide that causes us to feel sluggish. If we have more energy, we can move around more easily, and we are less likely to feel weak. Movement helps our thinking skills, which helps us solve problems, make decisions and improve our memory. It will also lessen the aches and pains as we age. We all know that long periods of sitting can lead to loss of function. However, limited mobility does not mean you cannot exercise, as exercises themselves are adaptable to suit individual needs. It is never too late to engage in exercise; it is guaranteed to have a positive effect on your life. Exercise can lower your risk of developing, or help you manage, many chronic health conditions, including coronary heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. It can also reduce the risk of depression, dementia and Alzheimer's. Exercise is also good for your mental wellbeing. It can: • improve your mood • increase your self-esteem • give you a sense of achievement • help you relax • relieve stress • improve your balance, strength, and agility • provide an opportunity to make friends if you join groups Exercising is even more enjoyable by including walking, gardening, dancing, armchair exercises. Some of us will be able to carry out other sports such as tennis, cycling or use of a gym. If you have a health condition or mobility problems, it’s essential to stay active. Areas that can help us keep moving: - Dancing: • Dancing provides us with the opportunity to engage with music and express ourselves physically. This is particularly positive for those who find it difficult to communicate verbally. • It allows us to express ourselves without using words • Balance and circulation improves and so does body strength • It is good for the brain as it combines memories and physical coordination • It helps us connect with other people     Quote – A dance a day keeps the doctor away! Music helps us relax, triggering the brain to remember those special memories throughout our lives, such as a memorable piece of music from a wedding day or a special birthday. Music is a vital tool when working with people with reduced verbal communication. Music helps to trigger a memory stored deep in our mind, which is especially important for those with dementia. Talk to people and find out about their life story - it may help trigger those special memories! The reaction can surprise us all. A great way to exercise to music is what we call 'Armchair Moving and Grooving'. Some people may want to sit and enjoy the music, whereas others prefer to move their arms, legs or just their feet. Walking is essential, even if you have limited mobility. Encouraging ourselves to walk more often is important; it may seem like a huge hurdle to get from A to B at times. Small but frequent movements can have a significant impact on our mental wellbeing and physical state. Areas that will help us improve our mobility include: • walking around the home from room to room • walking a short distance • a stroll around the garden to refill bird feeders or water the flowers. Try spending time in the garden when the weather is fine. Try digging, sweeping, weeding, or planting seeds in pots. This helps boost oxygen levels and help a person maintain coordination, balance, and stamina • a walk to the local park Stress balls can be a simple way of encouraging physical activity, especially for those with reduced mobility. This activity can help: • your hand-eye coordination and dexterity • Promote circulation and control • with physical challenges • improve manipulative skills At the same time, this will provide relaxation and fun amongst fellow residents. The activity can be carried out in small groups as well as individually. Gardening can provide many benefits and can quickly become an activity. • Enhanced wellbeing from being outdoors • Reduced symptoms of depression • Relaxation and satisfaction • Help improve mobility, especially with the hands • Plant pots with seeds – includes vegetables, flowers or herbs.  This can become a project watching them grow, transferring them to larger pots and enjoying the end produce As we age, sustaining a healthy lifestyle becomes an essential part of maintaining our day-to-day routines. It’s important to emphasise that a nutritional diet will impact wellbeing and independence. Nutrition and hydration are vital areas of life to maintain good health and mind, which prolongs life. It will also give you the energy to carry out exercises. • Exercise, together with lifestyle changes, reduce the risk of diabetes in high-risk older people. Statistics show a 71% decrease in diabetes among people 60 and older • Moderate exercise is effective at reducing stress and sleep problems in older women caring for a family member with dementia • Older people who exercise moderately are able to fall asleep quickly, sleep for longer and get a better quality of sleep • Research also found that exercise can improve balance and therefore reduces falls amongst older people by 33% • Walking and strength-building exercises by people with knee osteoarthritis help reduce pain and maintain function and quality of life • Physical activity allows us to maintain independence and management of our bodily functions. • Physical activity has a significant impact on the onset and progression of frailty, decline in muscle power and cardiorespiratory functions • One of the main factors of reduced mobility is a higher risk of falls within adults over 65. Try and aim to be physically active every day to reduce this risk • If you are physically fit and have a fall, you are more likely to recover more quickly than someone who doesn't take regular exercise ‘Physical activity’ is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure. Statistics show that carrying out physical activity at an older age improves our cognitive abilities; as we know, they slow down with age. We also need to recognise that frailer adults or those who have a very low physical or cognitive function, perhaps because of chronic disease such as arthritis or dementia, cannot carry out much exercise. Encouragement should be given towards a lighter programme to suit individual needs. Simple physical activities have a beneficial impact on older adults with depression, with a 20-30% reduction in further decline risk.Swarthmore programme for moving and grooving: 1100     Thursday 1st April          Gardening AM, walk through the garden 1145     Saturday 3rd April        Exercise with Sarra using the resistance  bands1430     Monday 5th April         Magic of the musicals with Kiddley-divey on                                                     DVD. Singalong and dance to music from Musicals                                                     and Songs about flowers, incorporating chair-based                                                     exercises1130      Tuesday 6th April        Armchair moving and grooving – music of your choice                                                      through Alexa 1145     Saturday 10th April       Gentle stretches with Sarra 1430    Monday 12th April         Toss the music ball, reminisce whilst keeping fit 1130     Tuesday 13th April         Move away from stress. Exercises incorporating our  stress balls and           games 1145     Saturday 17th April        Exercise with Sarra, using resistance bands 1430     Sunday 18th April          Tea dance afternoon with armchair grooves 1130      Tuesday 20th April         Parachute games using different sized balls 1130      Thursday 22nd April     Balloon volleyball and bean bag high jump 1130      Tuesday 27th April         Armchair moving and grooving 1430                                              Gardening and walk around the garden 1430     Monday 26th April         Walk to the local park, weather permitting 1130     Tuesday 27th April         Fit & Fun using mini cycles whilst watching country                                                              scenes on YouTube 1430     Thursday 29th April     Gaming Olympics using Wii Fun – residents and staff                                                      teamwork. Quiz Here is a 1960's Quiz down memory lane. See how many questions you can answer – no cheating!!!! It will get your memory working. 1. What was the name of the famous English four-piece band that came out of Liverpool? 2. What was the name of the first James Bond movie released in 1962 starring Sean Connery & Ursula Andrews? 3. In 1960, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded 9.5 on the Richter scale was where? 4. In which year did the show "Sesame Street" first air on television? 5. The first woman in space came from which country? 6. Which classic science fiction show began in 1966? 7. Who did John F Kennedy defeat in 1960 to win the presidential election? 8. In the late 1960s, the US Airforce released a report concluding there were no such things as UFOs or Extra Terrestrials. What was the name of the report? 9. What popular long-running soap opera still running on TV debuted in 1965? 10. In 1963, Martin Luther King Jnr gave a memorable speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. What was the name of that famous speech? 11. In 1960, four black college students sat in protest after being refused service at the lunch counter in which store in Greensboro North Carolina? 12. Who was the first man to walk on the moon in 1969? 13. In 1967 Dr Christian Barnard performed the first transplant of what human organ in South Africa? 14. Who famously sang happy birthday to John F Kennedy in 1962 (actually she sang Happy Birthday Mr President)? 15. Which famous boxer in 1964 changed his name from Cassius Clay to ….? 16. In 1962 three inmates escaped from which prison that was supposedly an inescapable prison near San Francisco? 17. Who was Harold Holt, and what happened to him? 18. Which president in the USA started the space race with the Soviet Union? Answers 1. The Beatles 2. Dr No 3. South America (Valdivia Earthquake) it caused global tsunamis & destruction 4. 1969 5. The Soviet Union. In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova spent almost 3 days in the Vostok 6 space capsule, orbiting Earth 48 times 6. Star Trek 7. Richard Nixon 8. Project Blue Book 9. Days of our lives 10. I Have A Dream 11. Woolworths 12. Neil Armstrong 13. Heart 14. Marilyn Monroe 15. Muhammad Ali 16. Alcatraz 17. The Australian Prime minister, who died in 1967 after going for a swim in the ocean in Portsea, Victoria. He disappeared, feared drowned his body was never recovered. 18. John F Kennedy…

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Re-cap on March Activities

We started the month looking at wildlfe in the gardens and making bird feeders for the grounds.14th March, Mothers Day - We had an afternoon with all our special mothers together enjoying Afternoon Tea, chocolate, flowers and a Gin and Tonic to wash it down.  So spoilt .........  17th March, St Patricks Day - An afternoon of watching River Dance on TV, enjoying poems and a traditional drink in the afternoon.  We had fun wearing appropriate props whilst enjoying the music and dance.  23rd March - We celebrated the National day of Reflection - see our article in the Newsfeed29th March, Visit from St Mary's Girls School - Year 2 walked around to Swarthmore in the glorious sunshine.  They sang and danced to a couple of songs they rehearsed.  The girls gave their performance on the patio and the residents watched from the activities area, within the home.  Year 2 made a beautiful Easter card and delivered a large bouquet of flowers for the home.  We made sure the Easter bunny left lots of chocolate eggs for the girls to enjoy.  Thank you so much we thoroughly enjoyed your visit and look forward to seeing you again throughout the year.30th March - Wow what a beautiful day.  It was like a Summers day, we had to get the sun hats out.  A day to enjoy our beautiful grounds.…

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National Day of Reflection 

A Year of Reflection Spring 2020 No one was expecting and I feel still cannot believe we have all been through a worldwide pandemic. Covid 19 brought all kinds of change to everyone’s lives and we are still learning to deal with the changes every day. As the vaccine programme rolls out, we all hope and pray that life will return to normal soon. A reflection of how Swarthmore has dealt with changes throughout the year. Claire Allsopp, Home Manager decided to take an early lockdown based on the news about Covid 19. The decision made was to lock down the home 3 weeks earlier than recommended. This was no easy decision but the main reason for this was to keep residents and staff as safe as possible. We had to source PPE ourselves, kind donations from family members, local businesses, and staff. Additional measures were put into place such as deeper cleaning using additional antibacterial products by our amazing housekeeping team. PPE was worn by all staff entering the home, residents were asked to remain in the home. We took regular checks such as temperature/oxygen sats in case anyone was showing signs of infection. We continue to do so as a precaution. We started to use Zoom, WhatsApp, and video calls with families so all our residents could keep in contact with their loved ones during the first lockdown period. Making the decision to lockdown meant that families/friends and any other person visiting the home were no longer able to do so. This decision obviously played on everyone’s mind, especially Claire’s. Lying in bed one evening she was unable to sleep, so with thoughts running through her mind about the pandemic, she decided to post a request on Swarthmore’s Facebook Page. Claire asked for people to write or email letters to residents to help cheer them up during this difficult time. As a result, we were inundated with wonderful letters, pictures, chocolates, CDs and so on. Several schools from near and far were set class projects, letters and painted rocks were sent from Australia, local author donated several books, our councillor donated games, supermarkets gave us chocolates, the local temple offered goodie bags for staff to say thank you and uniform scrubs were made, along with crochet bands to help alleviate painful ears from wearing mask, Bucks Fire rescue donated visors. We could not believe the response of kind wishes from people all over the world. The letters continued for months afterwards and we have created a memory album for the future as a result. We tried to respond to as many letters as we could at the time, as we were so grateful to everyone. It became a regular discussion with the residents as we read the letters during activities. Claire was contacted by ITN due to the size of the response to her Facebook request. ITN came to the home and filmed some of our residents through the windows and doors, discussing the response to the letters received from people all over the world. One of our residents also received a bouquet of flowers after the news went live. If you would like to see the Swarthmore on ITN 10 O’clock news, please follow the link through our website on the Newsfeed – direct link belowhttps://www.swarthmorecarehome.org.uk/post/news/1/237/itv-news-warm-wishes-from-around-the-world/ Summer After a period of lockdown, we followed the next set of Government guidelines which allowed meeting families again under tight restrictions. We designated our Quiet Room for residents to meet with families etc. We placed a Perspex screen between the room and the patio area outside. This meant that socially distanced visits were carried out to retain the safety of everyone inside and outside the home. This worked very well whilst the weather permitted. In the meantime, we started to research options of how we could continue visits in a safe and secure environment. Ann Marie, Activities Co-ordinator organised our very first Sports Day. The weather was amazing, so everyone came outside to either take part or cheer everyone on during the events. Staff and residents took part in lots of games and races while wearing masks! We had wheelchair races, sack race, football games, hula hoops and so on. We had our very own football coach Mr Tony Doherty who put the staff through their paces with football trials. Sack races had to be the most entertaining as they jumped their way to the finishing line. Awards for All at the end of the afternoon – rosettes and badges were presented to staff and residents. The afternoon was complete with an ice cream; we arranged for a local ice cream van to come to Swarthmore where everyone chose a flavoured ice cream which was delicious. A great afternoon of fun and games was welcomed by everyone at Swarthmore. We also had our first Patio entertainers, singers and musicians who stood outside and played and sang to our residents. We are fortunate that we have a beautiful garden for residents to enjoy. We made the most of it last year. Autumn After months of research, we were fortunate to be able to purchase a Visitor Pod for future visits between residents, families, and friends. This is a purpose-built, private visiting space that provides a safer environment for residents and their families, by significantly reducing the risk of infection. The Visitor Pod is a comfortable place with windows for ventilation and ramps for easy wheelchair access. When using the pod, residents can safely ‘socially distance’ from their visitors thanks to a clear screen with a two-way intercom. Emergency call points have been installed on both sides of the Pod which is sanitised between visits and a daily deep clean. The facility is limited to two visitors at any one time, ensuring both residents and their families are as safe as possible. The pod has already provided countless hours of private, safe visiting time for our residents and their loved ones. We continue to follow Government Guidelines to keep our residents and staff as safe as possible. During the pandemic it has been very difficult to continue with our community events due to restrictions. This meant that all activities were taken on board in house. A national campaign we were delighted to get involved with was inspired by Katrina Cole and the children at Gee Cross Holy Trinity School movement, so we contacted our local school, St Marys Girls School in Gerrards Cross. Each year Swarthmore residents would normally visit the school to watch their Christmas productions and other events during the year. The only way we were able to communicate this year, was through this campaign. On Wednesday 9th December, teachers and pupils took a short walk to Swarthmore Care Home and delivered amazing artwork which contained lots of warm wishes. The residents sat in the dining room, peering through the windows, waiting in suspense for the girls and teachers to arrive. As they approached the dining room window, we saw smiling faces and waving hands appearing in the distance. The arrival of new faces brought delight, happiness, and tears of joy. The residents were amazed that these girls took the time to come and wish everyone a ‘Merry Christmas’. The girls performed a dance and sang ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ which was wonderful and very much appreciated by all our residents and staff at Swarthmore. Hearts and Poems were exchanged with some chocolates for the girls to be shared later. Winter Christmas time for anyone is normally full of fun, lots of visitors and just a general buzz in the air. We would normally have lots of entertainment in the home from external production companies, musicians, visit from Santa and much more. Once again Ann Marie came up with a wonderful idea of a Pantomime. A production script of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ was put to the members of staff and before we knew it scripts were passed around and lines were learnt. The cast included a Narrator, king, queen, nanny, jester, several fairies, fairy godmother, evil fairy, prince, princess, and a minstrel. Costumes to suit were handed out, we had a makeshift backdrop for the stage in the lounge area and off we went to ‘break a leg’ so they say on stage! Lots of singing and dancing in between scenes, we even served ice cream during the break. The residents thoroughly enjoyed the performance and thanked everyone at the end. This was one of those special moments, able to see the pleasure this brought to the residents that afternoon. Families and members of staff put together a video of warm wishes which was shown to the residents on Christmas Day. As families and friends were only able to visit residents in our Visitor Pod we thought it would bring another special and different moment to the residents day. Without technology it would have been very difficult for everyone – without Zoom and WhatsApp contact would have been almost impossible for residents and families to have contact. We were fortunate enough to receive 2 iPads via the NHS government scheme, we were chosen as a winner from an insurance company after a relative nominated the home for the wonderful care her mother received at the end of her life. It’s amazing how we all adapt in these unprecedented times, and how quickly we have managed to learn new skills Vaccination Programme We were one of the first in Buckinghamshire and one of six care homes in England to be chosen to have in home vaccinations. We have a good relationship with the Chiltern Care commissioning group (CCCG) and we were delighted to welcome the team in on 17th December. Staff are tested once a week, and residents once a month. We also test staff twice weekly with the Lateral Flow Device (LFD). This is what our visitors and contactors also use. One year on With new guidance we welcomed back visitors recently, one named person per resident as well as a continuation of visitors in the pod as many visitors are themselves shielding. PPE, restrictions, NHS app and technology are now part of our ‘norm’. Today marks a year of reflection of Covid19 in the UK and we joined with the nation to remember the residents we have lost during this time, staff members who have lost family and friends due to Covid and for all of us who have in one way or another experience loss over the last year. Today, we also took time to reflect on how we have reinforced the values of Swarthmore in the home and with each other appreciating what each of the values mean in much more depth than perhaps this time last year- namely caring, community, peace, integrity. We are also grateful for the hard work of all keyworkers and the resilience of our amazing residents who have made this all worthwhile. …

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February highlights

Spring is on its way – we have a beautiful carpet of crocus forming at the bottom of the garden and the daffodils are out in bloom. I am looking forward to the sunshine appearing more regularly and hopefully the temperature will turn up a few degrees. I am sure this will lift our spirits and put a spring in our step moving forward. We have enjoyed the month of February with lots of interesting discussions organised by Ann Marie, here are the highlights: Birthday Celebrations An amazing lady celebrated her 107th birthday. Kitty received a birthday card with warm wishes from her Majesty the Queen. We celebrated in style with everyone at Swarthmore with afternoon tea and a special cake, singing and a few dances. We also saw another celebration for a wonderful gentleman who has reached the age of 99. Howard enjoyed a celebration cake and lots of delightful gifts from his family. Discussions Ann Marie and Claire held discussions about ‘dignity’ and what this means to everyone. A Digni-tree was provided so we could place our expressions on a note and hang on a tree so everyone could view and understand how important this is to everyone. One of our residents gave a talk around ‘Quaker Tapestry’ which everyone found very interesting. Below is short read of how it all began: The idea began at the Friends Meeting House in Taunton in 1981 by a boy called Jonathan Stocks. At the age of 11 he felt that the children’s meeting room needed cheering up. Anne was a professional embroider, who had been studying the Bayeux Tapestry. She had a vision of a Quaker tapestry which would be a series of panels illustrating an event or idea from the history of Quaker’s. Each panel was researched, designed then embroidered. A panel was created by different meetings, Anne would oversee the designs to keep it unified. The Tapestry was made by over 4,000 men, women, and children from 15 countries over a period of 15 years and 77 panels, hung chronologically. The tapestry is worked in crewel embroidery yarns on a handwoven woollen background. In addition to using four historic and well-known stitches such as split, stem, chain stitch and the perking knot. Wynn-Wilson invented a new corded stitch which became known as the Quaker stitch; this stitch allowed for tight curves on the lettering. Zoom Meetings We held live zoom meetings with Anne Park, discussions around topics such as french knitting, garden flowers, favourite drinks – of course most popular was a Gin & Tonic! Chinese New Year We celebrated the day with a Chinese lunch. Thanks to our Chef Kuli who created a wonderful Chinese lunch which was enjoyed by everyone. We spent The afternoon was spent talking about the Year of the Ox and the celebrations held throughout this period. Each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac (this is represented by a circle of animals). The Zodiac is based on the Moon and has a 12-year cycle, the planet Jupiter also has the same cycle, this takes about 12 years to orbit the sun. However, there is also a cycle of five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Altogether this creates a 60-year cycle, so the year of the Ox has not happened for 60 years!Looking forward to seeing what March brings – lighter mornings and evenings, warmer weather…………………….. …

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May Updates

What a wet month, we had so much rain and no sunshine. We had a few birthday celebrations, said our goodbyes to colleagues and welcomed back some of our entertainers. It was ‘Dying Matters Week’ 10-16th May. We talk about this every year so we can discuss our feelings, hopes and memories. We are very diverse at Swarthmore, so we engage in a very interesting discussion about Christian faith, Muslim, Quaker, Catholic, rituals and traditions in Poland, Pakistan and the Philippines. We asked each other lots of questions and learned a bit more about all faiths, practice, and rituals. Amersham museum brought lots of items that encourages our residents to talk about their working life and memories. Its lovely to hear stories and learn about their life stories. We welcomed back our pianist and one of our singers. It was lovely to have entertainment in the home and our residents thoroughly enjoyed a dance and sing song together.  We also had music in the pod with Anne and a friend, they played their violins to some of our residents. Lots of new craft sessions have been introduced by Jeanette and we look forward to hearing whats on the horizon for June. We have said our goodbyes to Jess one of superhero carers’ and Tony who was our Accountant. We wish them both well in their new roles.…

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Pet Therapy

Brief History of Pet Therapy Nearly half of all UK households own a pet, with numbers increasing during the pandemic. A recent poll through a social networking website found that when we feel down, half of us would rather hug a pet than a relative! This fact alone shows that pets offer us comfort and companionship. Various kinds of animals provide therapeutic benefits. Dogs have proven to be particularly effective at providing comfort to those in physical and emotional distress.In England, as far back as the 1700's, the Quakers recognised the positive effects animals could have on ill patients. They began introducing animals to 'enhance the humanity of the emotionally ill' for people suffering with mental health issues whilst residing at The Retreat in York. Examples of how pets have contributed through difficult times: .   During the Second World War, Smoky, a female terrier, was found abandoned on the battlefield. Her new owner, Corporal William Wynne, was recovering     in hospital from a jungle disease. Smoky was taken to his bedside by his friends to see if he could be cheered up. These visits along with visits to other     injured soldiers became so popular that Smoky became a therapy dog for the next 12 years.   In 1970, an American nurse based in the UK named Elaine Smith noticed that the local chaplain was accompanied by a golden retriever when visiting     patients. She recognised the difference this made to patients during recovery. When Nurse Smith moved back to the US, she started an organisation     called 'Therapy Dogs International'. As a result of this development, a charity called 'Pets as Therapy' is today's leading UK provider of animals in hospitals, care homes, nursing homes and hospices. This organisation was founded in 1983, and since then, it has worked with over 20,000 dogs to provide therapeutic visits to thousands of patients and care home residents. 'Pets as Therapy' currently have around 4,500 dogs and 108 cats who visit more than 130,000 people every week. Pet Therapy at SwarthmoreOur 'Pets as Therapy' dog 'Thula' has been visiting Swarthmore for around 3 years with her owner Didi. How it all began – Didi's daughter came up with the idea as she also had dogs, so Didi decided she would also put her dog forward as a therapy dog. A range of tests were carried out to determine whether the dog was suitable. Didi immediately thought that 'Thula' had failed. The assessment was at an assessor's home and she had just baked fresh bread. Of course, Thula loves food, so her senses took over! Use your imagination to think what happened next!! However, to Didi's surprise 'Thula' passed the assessment with flying colours, so the hunt was on to find a care home to visit. Didi was a nurse working in a hospital and came across information about care homes looking for pet therapy for their residents. Finding a care home was not an easy task, so Didi knocked on the doors of Swarthmore and was directed up to our Activities Co-ordinator to discuss. It was one of those coincidental moments that Ann-Marie and her colleague were discussing pet therapy and in walks Didi with the offer of a PAT dog. Neither of them could believe the way the opportunity came together. Thula is a collie-cross poodle, a gorgeous bundle of fluff. He is so placid and intelligent. At home, he is always on the go; he can be noisy too! He lets you know when he wants something, and he knows exactly when it is time to walk. His personality changes when visiting the home, his instincts kick in, and he is very placid. Thula is a trained agility dog who has won a number of awards in competitions. He only visits 'Swarthmore’ residents as a PAT dog. We have all become very attached. Visiting once a week is such a treat for everyone, with visits to individual rooms and communal areas. He will happily sit on laps, lay next to residents who cannot leave their bed, and happily sit by your side whilst you stroke him. Thula brings happiness and relaxation to the home. The minute he walks into a room, you can see the residents face light up. It is quite an emotional experience for anyone to see. It is also a reminiscence experience for people as it brings back memories of their pets or experiences in life. Some residents have become more and more confident with him over the years, which is also a positive change. One of our residents enjoys walking around the home with Thula to visit residents, creating a social experience and allowing them to pet the dog and talk amongst themselves.  Ann Marie’s pockets are always full of treats for him too. We really value Didi and Thula as part of the Swarthmore family, and look forward to many more visits. Statistics show the benefits of using Pet Therapy. Have a read of some interesting facts to consider if you would like to home a dog or cat for an elderly relative or considering pet therapy.     The experience of petting a dog or cat can reduce the amount of medication some people require; statistics show that people become less anxious as their breathing slows down. One of the hormones released from our body produces Phenylethylamine (PEA). This is the compound found in chocolate. It is thought to have positive effects on our mood, which acts as an anti-depressant. Still a nice treat but not as tasty as chocolate!.    For anyone having difficulty responding or able to connect with people, a connection is always made with a cat or dog, which brings a positive result..    Decreases the feeling of isolation and loneliness. A dog or cat fills a void..    Comforting and reduces boredom – allows you to go for walks, gives a sense of responsibility. .    It gives the motivation to recover from an illness much faster..    Encouraging body movement and increases our motor skills..    Statistics show that heart patients anxiety levels dropped by 24% when visited by a pet and their owner, with epinephrine levels (a hormone the body makes when under stress), dropping by up to 17%. If you would like to discover more details about pet therapy, please visit their website: https://petsastherapy.org/…

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Re-cap on April at Swarthmore 

April brought lots of sunshine and no showers!!! We welcomed two new members of staff to Swarthmore. Peter Hall, Maintenance & Facilities Co-ordinator and Jeanette White, Activities Co-ordinator. We wish them both well in their roles. A round up of activities for the month Reminiscing years gone by with articles from The Amersham Museum. The residents spent an afternoon discussing articles and their packaging, how things have changed! A copy of an old newspaper which celebrated the wedding pictures of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. We talked about the changes in product design, products used and luxury items we ate in years gone by. April was the month for moving and grooving. We spent lots of time working on exercises with our residents. Lots of genius ways to keep moving – such as ball exercises, cycling machines whilst watching a tour through the countryside, band exercises and armchair stretches. We are all feeling fit and healthy after a busy month thanks to Ann-Marie and Jeanette. Our living eggs were very successful, and we all enjoyed watching the chick’s progress. Easter was celebrated with a visit from the Easter Bunny (Avril) and enjoyed by all. We all enjoyed the donations of chocolate – thank you again to everyone. We have explored so many experiences over the last year through technology. Activities brought a virtual tour around the country to celebrate St Georges Day. The tour took us to Brecon Beacons, Stonehenge, and sights around London. Jeanette was the bus driver, Ann-Marie the tour guide. The afternoon finished with a quiz and a cream tea. How delicious and enjoyable.We are looking forward to the warmer weather so we can sit outside and admire our beautiful garden. The magnolia tree is coming to the end of the flowering season, we are now waiting for the wisteria and rhododendrons to bloom. Looking forward to warmer days. …

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Easter 

Oh what a happy time and the weather was perfect too. The residents decorated the home with an array of flowers for Easter.  The garden is starting to bloom with camellia's, magnolia and daffodils, we are so fortunate to have beautiful grounds to admire.Easter was celebrated with lots of chocolate delivered to all the residents, by our own Easter bunnies - Avril being the main star.  Easter bonnets were decorated with the help of the care team and worn by our lovely ladies.  A lovely afternoon tea was enjoyed by everyone with lots of donations from our local Waitrose store.  Thank you once again for your generosity.  We also enjoyed watching our chicks hatch over Easter.  This was an interesting week of being glued to watching the eggs hatch, watching in suspense whilst they hatched in the incubator.  Ann Marie was extra busy this week looking after the chicks and entertaining our residents.  This was a great project for everyone to watch throughout the week, lots of smiles and new conversations were had by all.   Happy Easter from Swarthmore.  …

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Month for Moving and Grooving 

It's the year for Moving and Grooving Swarthmore supports the campaign to increase physical activity amongst our residents NAPA (the National Activities Provider Association) supports a campaign within the care sector, known as the Year of Moving and Grooving, to prioritise physical activity and psychological and social wellbeing. Regular exercise increases our heart rate, which changes the way we breathe. Deeper breaths allow more oxygen into our bloodstream, removing more carbon dioxide that causes us to feel sluggish. If we have more energy, we can move around more easily, and we are less likely to feel weak. Movement helps our thinking skills, which helps us solve problems, make decisions and improve our memory. It will also lessen the aches and pains as we age. We all know that long periods of sitting can lead to loss of function. However, limited mobility does not mean you cannot exercise, as exercises themselves are adaptable to suit individual needs. It is never too late to engage in exercise; it is guaranteed to have a positive effect on your life. Exercise can lower your risk of developing, or help you manage, many chronic health conditions, including coronary heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. It can also reduce the risk of depression, dementia and Alzheimer's. Exercise is also good for your mental wellbeing. It can: • improve your mood • increase your self-esteem • give you a sense of achievement • help you relax • relieve stress • improve your balance, strength, and agility • provide an opportunity to make friends if you join groups Exercising is even more enjoyable by including walking, gardening, dancing, armchair exercises. Some of us will be able to carry out other sports such as tennis, cycling or use of a gym. If you have a health condition or mobility problems, it’s essential to stay active. Areas that can help us keep moving: - Dancing: • Dancing provides us with the opportunity to engage with music and express ourselves physically. This is particularly positive for those who find it difficult to communicate verbally. • It allows us to express ourselves without using words • Balance and circulation improves and so does body strength • It is good for the brain as it combines memories and physical coordination • It helps us connect with other people     Quote – A dance a day keeps the doctor away! Music helps us relax, triggering the brain to remember those special memories throughout our lives, such as a memorable piece of music from a wedding day or a special birthday. Music is a vital tool when working with people with reduced verbal communication. Music helps to trigger a memory stored deep in our mind, which is especially important for those with dementia. Talk to people and find out about their life story - it may help trigger those special memories! The reaction can surprise us all. A great way to exercise to music is what we call 'Armchair Moving and Grooving'. Some people may want to sit and enjoy the music, whereas others prefer to move their arms, legs or just their feet. Walking is essential, even if you have limited mobility. Encouraging ourselves to walk more often is important; it may seem like a huge hurdle to get from A to B at times. Small but frequent movements can have a significant impact on our mental wellbeing and physical state. Areas that will help us improve our mobility include: • walking around the home from room to room • walking a short distance • a stroll around the garden to refill bird feeders or water the flowers. Try spending time in the garden when the weather is fine. Try digging, sweeping, weeding, or planting seeds in pots. This helps boost oxygen levels and help a person maintain coordination, balance, and stamina • a walk to the local park Stress balls can be a simple way of encouraging physical activity, especially for those with reduced mobility. This activity can help: • your hand-eye coordination and dexterity • Promote circulation and control • with physical challenges • improve manipulative skills At the same time, this will provide relaxation and fun amongst fellow residents. The activity can be carried out in small groups as well as individually. Gardening can provide many benefits and can quickly become an activity. • Enhanced wellbeing from being outdoors • Reduced symptoms of depression • Relaxation and satisfaction • Help improve mobility, especially with the hands • Plant pots with seeds – includes vegetables, flowers or herbs.  This can become a project watching them grow, transferring them to larger pots and enjoying the end produce As we age, sustaining a healthy lifestyle becomes an essential part of maintaining our day-to-day routines. It’s important to emphasise that a nutritional diet will impact wellbeing and independence. Nutrition and hydration are vital areas of life to maintain good health and mind, which prolongs life. It will also give you the energy to carry out exercises. • Exercise, together with lifestyle changes, reduce the risk of diabetes in high-risk older people. Statistics show a 71% decrease in diabetes among people 60 and older • Moderate exercise is effective at reducing stress and sleep problems in older women caring for a family member with dementia • Older people who exercise moderately are able to fall asleep quickly, sleep for longer and get a better quality of sleep • Research also found that exercise can improve balance and therefore reduces falls amongst older people by 33% • Walking and strength-building exercises by people with knee osteoarthritis help reduce pain and maintain function and quality of life • Physical activity allows us to maintain independence and management of our bodily functions. • Physical activity has a significant impact on the onset and progression of frailty, decline in muscle power and cardiorespiratory functions • One of the main factors of reduced mobility is a higher risk of falls within adults over 65. Try and aim to be physically active every day to reduce this risk • If you are physically fit and have a fall, you are more likely to recover more quickly than someone who doesn't take regular exercise ‘Physical activity’ is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure. Statistics show that carrying out physical activity at an older age improves our cognitive abilities; as we know, they slow down with age. We also need to recognise that frailer adults or those who have a very low physical or cognitive function, perhaps because of chronic disease such as arthritis or dementia, cannot carry out much exercise. Encouragement should be given towards a lighter programme to suit individual needs. Simple physical activities have a beneficial impact on older adults with depression, with a 20-30% reduction in further decline risk.Swarthmore programme for moving and grooving: 1100     Thursday 1st April          Gardening AM, walk through the garden 1145     Saturday 3rd April        Exercise with Sarra using the resistance  bands1430     Monday 5th April         Magic of the musicals with Kiddley-divey on                                                     DVD. Singalong and dance to music from Musicals                                                     and Songs about flowers, incorporating chair-based                                                     exercises1130      Tuesday 6th April        Armchair moving and grooving – music of your choice                                                      through Alexa 1145     Saturday 10th April       Gentle stretches with Sarra 1430    Monday 12th April         Toss the music ball, reminisce whilst keeping fit 1130     Tuesday 13th April         Move away from stress. Exercises incorporating our  stress balls and           games 1145     Saturday 17th April        Exercise with Sarra, using resistance bands 1430     Sunday 18th April          Tea dance afternoon with armchair grooves 1130      Tuesday 20th April         Parachute games using different sized balls 1130      Thursday 22nd April     Balloon volleyball and bean bag high jump 1130      Tuesday 27th April         Armchair moving and grooving 1430                                              Gardening and walk around the garden 1430     Monday 26th April         Walk to the local park, weather permitting 1130     Tuesday 27th April         Fit & Fun using mini cycles whilst watching country                                                              scenes on YouTube 1430     Thursday 29th April     Gaming Olympics using Wii Fun – residents and staff                                                      teamwork. Quiz Here is a 1960's Quiz down memory lane. See how many questions you can answer – no cheating!!!! It will get your memory working. 1. What was the name of the famous English four-piece band that came out of Liverpool? 2. What was the name of the first James Bond movie released in 1962 starring Sean Connery & Ursula Andrews? 3. In 1960, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded 9.5 on the Richter scale was where? 4. In which year did the show "Sesame Street" first air on television? 5. The first woman in space came from which country? 6. Which classic science fiction show began in 1966? 7. Who did John F Kennedy defeat in 1960 to win the presidential election? 8. In the late 1960s, the US Airforce released a report concluding there were no such things as UFOs or Extra Terrestrials. What was the name of the report? 9. What popular long-running soap opera still running on TV debuted in 1965? 10. In 1963, Martin Luther King Jnr gave a memorable speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. What was the name of that famous speech? 11. In 1960, four black college students sat in protest after being refused service at the lunch counter in which store in Greensboro North Carolina? 12. Who was the first man to walk on the moon in 1969? 13. In 1967 Dr Christian Barnard performed the first transplant of what human organ in South Africa? 14. Who famously sang happy birthday to John F Kennedy in 1962 (actually she sang Happy Birthday Mr President)? 15. Which famous boxer in 1964 changed his name from Cassius Clay to ….? 16. In 1962 three inmates escaped from which prison that was supposedly an inescapable prison near San Francisco? 17. Who was Harold Holt, and what happened to him? 18. Which president in the USA started the space race with the Soviet Union? Answers 1. The Beatles 2. Dr No 3. South America (Valdivia Earthquake) it caused global tsunamis & destruction 4. 1969 5. The Soviet Union. In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova spent almost 3 days in the Vostok 6 space capsule, orbiting Earth 48 times 6. Star Trek 7. Richard Nixon 8. Project Blue Book 9. Days of our lives 10. I Have A Dream 11. Woolworths 12. Neil Armstrong 13. Heart 14. Marilyn Monroe 15. Muhammad Ali 16. Alcatraz 17. The Australian Prime minister, who died in 1967 after going for a swim in the ocean in Portsea, Victoria. He disappeared, feared drowned his body was never recovered. 18. John F Kennedy…

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Re-cap on March Activities

We started the month looking at wildlfe in the gardens and making bird feeders for the grounds.14th March, Mothers Day - We had an afternoon with all our special mothers together enjoying Afternoon Tea, chocolate, flowers and a Gin and Tonic to wash it down.  So spoilt .........  17th March, St Patricks Day - An afternoon of watching River Dance on TV, enjoying poems and a traditional drink in the afternoon.  We had fun wearing appropriate props whilst enjoying the music and dance.  23rd March - We celebrated the National day of Reflection - see our article in the Newsfeed29th March, Visit from St Mary's Girls School - Year 2 walked around to Swarthmore in the glorious sunshine.  They sang and danced to a couple of songs they rehearsed.  The girls gave their performance on the patio and the residents watched from the activities area, within the home.  Year 2 made a beautiful Easter card and delivered a large bouquet of flowers for the home.  We made sure the Easter bunny left lots of chocolate eggs for the girls to enjoy.  Thank you so much we thoroughly enjoyed your visit and look forward to seeing you again throughout the year.30th March - Wow what a beautiful day.  It was like a Summers day, we had to get the sun hats out.  A day to enjoy our beautiful grounds.…

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National Day of Reflection 

A Year of Reflection Spring 2020 No one was expecting and I feel still cannot believe we have all been through a worldwide pandemic. Covid 19 brought all kinds of change to everyone’s lives and we are still learning to deal with the changes every day. As the vaccine programme rolls out, we all hope and pray that life will return to normal soon. A reflection of how Swarthmore has dealt with changes throughout the year. Claire Allsopp, Home Manager decided to take an early lockdown based on the news about Covid 19. The decision made was to lock down the home 3 weeks earlier than recommended. This was no easy decision but the main reason for this was to keep residents and staff as safe as possible. We had to source PPE ourselves, kind donations from family members, local businesses, and staff. Additional measures were put into place such as deeper cleaning using additional antibacterial products by our amazing housekeeping team. PPE was worn by all staff entering the home, residents were asked to remain in the home. We took regular checks such as temperature/oxygen sats in case anyone was showing signs of infection. We continue to do so as a precaution. We started to use Zoom, WhatsApp, and video calls with families so all our residents could keep in contact with their loved ones during the first lockdown period. Making the decision to lockdown meant that families/friends and any other person visiting the home were no longer able to do so. This decision obviously played on everyone’s mind, especially Claire’s. Lying in bed one evening she was unable to sleep, so with thoughts running through her mind about the pandemic, she decided to post a request on Swarthmore’s Facebook Page. Claire asked for people to write or email letters to residents to help cheer them up during this difficult time. As a result, we were inundated with wonderful letters, pictures, chocolates, CDs and so on. Several schools from near and far were set class projects, letters and painted rocks were sent from Australia, local author donated several books, our councillor donated games, supermarkets gave us chocolates, the local temple offered goodie bags for staff to say thank you and uniform scrubs were made, along with crochet bands to help alleviate painful ears from wearing mask, Bucks Fire rescue donated visors. We could not believe the response of kind wishes from people all over the world. The letters continued for months afterwards and we have created a memory album for the future as a result. We tried to respond to as many letters as we could at the time, as we were so grateful to everyone. It became a regular discussion with the residents as we read the letters during activities. Claire was contacted by ITN due to the size of the response to her Facebook request. ITN came to the home and filmed some of our residents through the windows and doors, discussing the response to the letters received from people all over the world. One of our residents also received a bouquet of flowers after the news went live. If you would like to see the Swarthmore on ITN 10 O’clock news, please follow the link through our website on the Newsfeed – direct link belowhttps://www.swarthmorecarehome.org.uk/post/news/1/237/itv-news-warm-wishes-from-around-the-world/ Summer After a period of lockdown, we followed the next set of Government guidelines which allowed meeting families again under tight restrictions. We designated our Quiet Room for residents to meet with families etc. We placed a Perspex screen between the room and the patio area outside. This meant that socially distanced visits were carried out to retain the safety of everyone inside and outside the home. This worked very well whilst the weather permitted. In the meantime, we started to research options of how we could continue visits in a safe and secure environment. Ann Marie, Activities Co-ordinator organised our very first Sports Day. The weather was amazing, so everyone came outside to either take part or cheer everyone on during the events. Staff and residents took part in lots of games and races while wearing masks! We had wheelchair races, sack race, football games, hula hoops and so on. We had our very own football coach Mr Tony Doherty who put the staff through their paces with football trials. Sack races had to be the most entertaining as they jumped their way to the finishing line. Awards for All at the end of the afternoon – rosettes and badges were presented to staff and residents. The afternoon was complete with an ice cream; we arranged for a local ice cream van to come to Swarthmore where everyone chose a flavoured ice cream which was delicious. A great afternoon of fun and games was welcomed by everyone at Swarthmore. We also had our first Patio entertainers, singers and musicians who stood outside and played and sang to our residents. We are fortunate that we have a beautiful garden for residents to enjoy. We made the most of it last year. Autumn After months of research, we were fortunate to be able to purchase a Visitor Pod for future visits between residents, families, and friends. This is a purpose-built, private visiting space that provides a safer environment for residents and their families, by significantly reducing the risk of infection. The Visitor Pod is a comfortable place with windows for ventilation and ramps for easy wheelchair access. When using the pod, residents can safely ‘socially distance’ from their visitors thanks to a clear screen with a two-way intercom. Emergency call points have been installed on both sides of the Pod which is sanitised between visits and a daily deep clean. The facility is limited to two visitors at any one time, ensuring both residents and their families are as safe as possible. The pod has already provided countless hours of private, safe visiting time for our residents and their loved ones. We continue to follow Government Guidelines to keep our residents and staff as safe as possible. During the pandemic it has been very difficult to continue with our community events due to restrictions. This meant that all activities were taken on board in house. A national campaign we were delighted to get involved with was inspired by Katrina Cole and the children at Gee Cross Holy Trinity School movement, so we contacted our local school, St Marys Girls School in Gerrards Cross. Each year Swarthmore residents would normally visit the school to watch their Christmas productions and other events during the year. The only way we were able to communicate this year, was through this campaign. On Wednesday 9th December, teachers and pupils took a short walk to Swarthmore Care Home and delivered amazing artwork which contained lots of warm wishes. The residents sat in the dining room, peering through the windows, waiting in suspense for the girls and teachers to arrive. As they approached the dining room window, we saw smiling faces and waving hands appearing in the distance. The arrival of new faces brought delight, happiness, and tears of joy. The residents were amazed that these girls took the time to come and wish everyone a ‘Merry Christmas’. The girls performed a dance and sang ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ which was wonderful and very much appreciated by all our residents and staff at Swarthmore. Hearts and Poems were exchanged with some chocolates for the girls to be shared later. Winter Christmas time for anyone is normally full of fun, lots of visitors and just a general buzz in the air. We would normally have lots of entertainment in the home from external production companies, musicians, visit from Santa and much more. Once again Ann Marie came up with a wonderful idea of a Pantomime. A production script of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ was put to the members of staff and before we knew it scripts were passed around and lines were learnt. The cast included a Narrator, king, queen, nanny, jester, several fairies, fairy godmother, evil fairy, prince, princess, and a minstrel. Costumes to suit were handed out, we had a makeshift backdrop for the stage in the lounge area and off we went to ‘break a leg’ so they say on stage! Lots of singing and dancing in between scenes, we even served ice cream during the break. The residents thoroughly enjoyed the performance and thanked everyone at the end. This was one of those special moments, able to see the pleasure this brought to the residents that afternoon. Families and members of staff put together a video of warm wishes which was shown to the residents on Christmas Day. As families and friends were only able to visit residents in our Visitor Pod we thought it would bring another special and different moment to the residents day. Without technology it would have been very difficult for everyone – without Zoom and WhatsApp contact would have been almost impossible for residents and families to have contact. We were fortunate enough to receive 2 iPads via the NHS government scheme, we were chosen as a winner from an insurance company after a relative nominated the home for the wonderful care her mother received at the end of her life. It’s amazing how we all adapt in these unprecedented times, and how quickly we have managed to learn new skills Vaccination Programme We were one of the first in Buckinghamshire and one of six care homes in England to be chosen to have in home vaccinations. We have a good relationship with the Chiltern Care commissioning group (CCCG) and we were delighted to welcome the team in on 17th December. Staff are tested once a week, and residents once a month. We also test staff twice weekly with the Lateral Flow Device (LFD). This is what our visitors and contactors also use. One year on With new guidance we welcomed back visitors recently, one named person per resident as well as a continuation of visitors in the pod as many visitors are themselves shielding. PPE, restrictions, NHS app and technology are now part of our ‘norm’. Today marks a year of reflection of Covid19 in the UK and we joined with the nation to remember the residents we have lost during this time, staff members who have lost family and friends due to Covid and for all of us who have in one way or another experience loss over the last year. Today, we also took time to reflect on how we have reinforced the values of Swarthmore in the home and with each other appreciating what each of the values mean in much more depth than perhaps this time last year- namely caring, community, peace, integrity. We are also grateful for the hard work of all keyworkers and the resilience of our amazing residents who have made this all worthwhile. …

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February highlights

Spring is on its way – we have a beautiful carpet of crocus forming at the bottom of the garden and the daffodils are out in bloom. I am looking forward to the sunshine appearing more regularly and hopefully the temperature will turn up a few degrees. I am sure this will lift our spirits and put a spring in our step moving forward. We have enjoyed the month of February with lots of interesting discussions organised by Ann Marie, here are the highlights: Birthday Celebrations An amazing lady celebrated her 107th birthday. Kitty received a birthday card with warm wishes from her Majesty the Queen. We celebrated in style with everyone at Swarthmore with afternoon tea and a special cake, singing and a few dances. We also saw another celebration for a wonderful gentleman who has reached the age of 99. Howard enjoyed a celebration cake and lots of delightful gifts from his family. Discussions Ann Marie and Claire held discussions about ‘dignity’ and what this means to everyone. A Digni-tree was provided so we could place our expressions on a note and hang on a tree so everyone could view and understand how important this is to everyone. One of our residents gave a talk around ‘Quaker Tapestry’ which everyone found very interesting. Below is short read of how it all began: The idea began at the Friends Meeting House in Taunton in 1981 by a boy called Jonathan Stocks. At the age of 11 he felt that the children’s meeting room needed cheering up. Anne was a professional embroider, who had been studying the Bayeux Tapestry. She had a vision of a Quaker tapestry which would be a series of panels illustrating an event or idea from the history of Quaker’s. Each panel was researched, designed then embroidered. A panel was created by different meetings, Anne would oversee the designs to keep it unified. The Tapestry was made by over 4,000 men, women, and children from 15 countries over a period of 15 years and 77 panels, hung chronologically. The tapestry is worked in crewel embroidery yarns on a handwoven woollen background. In addition to using four historic and well-known stitches such as split, stem, chain stitch and the perking knot. Wynn-Wilson invented a new corded stitch which became known as the Quaker stitch; this stitch allowed for tight curves on the lettering. Zoom Meetings We held live zoom meetings with Anne Park, discussions around topics such as french knitting, garden flowers, favourite drinks – of course most popular was a Gin & Tonic! Chinese New Year We celebrated the day with a Chinese lunch. Thanks to our Chef Kuli who created a wonderful Chinese lunch which was enjoyed by everyone. We spent The afternoon was spent talking about the Year of the Ox and the celebrations held throughout this period. Each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac (this is represented by a circle of animals). The Zodiac is based on the Moon and has a 12-year cycle, the planet Jupiter also has the same cycle, this takes about 12 years to orbit the sun. However, there is also a cycle of five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Altogether this creates a 60-year cycle, so the year of the Ox has not happened for 60 years!Looking forward to seeing what March brings – lighter mornings and evenings, warmer weather…………………….. …

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May Updates

What a wet month, we had so much rain and no sunshine. We had a few birthday celebrations, said our goodbyes to colleagues and welcomed back some of our entertainers. It was ‘Dying Matters Week’ 10-16th May. We talk about this every year so we can discuss our feelings, hopes and memories. We are very diverse at Swarthmore, so we engage in a very interesting discussion about Christian faith, Muslim, Quaker, Catholic, rituals and traditions in Poland, Pakistan and the Philippines. We asked each other lots of questions and learned a bit more about all faiths, practice, and rituals. Amersham museum brought lots of items that encourages our residents to talk about their working life and memories. Its lovely to hear stories and learn about their life stories. We welcomed back our pianist and one of our singers. It was lovely to have entertainment in the home and our residents thoroughly enjoyed a dance and sing song together.  We also had music in the pod with Anne and a friend, they played their violins to some of our residents. Lots of new craft sessions have been introduced by Jeanette and we look forward to hearing whats on the horizon for June. We have said our goodbyes to Jess one of superhero carers’ and Tony who was our Accountant. We wish them both well in their new roles.…

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Pet Therapy

Brief History of Pet Therapy Nearly half of all UK households own a pet, with numbers increasing during the pandemic. A recent poll through a social networking website found that when we feel down, half of us would rather hug a pet than a relative! This fact alone shows that pets offer us comfort and companionship. Various kinds of animals provide therapeutic benefits. Dogs have proven to be particularly effective at providing comfort to those in physical and emotional distress.In England, as far back as the 1700's, the Quakers recognised the positive effects animals could have on ill patients. They began introducing animals to 'enhance the humanity of the emotionally ill' for people suffering with mental health issues whilst residing at The Retreat in York. Examples of how pets have contributed through difficult times: .   During the Second World War, Smoky, a female terrier, was found abandoned on the battlefield. Her new owner, Corporal William Wynne, was recovering     in hospital from a jungle disease. Smoky was taken to his bedside by his friends to see if he could be cheered up. These visits along with visits to other     injured soldiers became so popular that Smoky became a therapy dog for the next 12 years.   In 1970, an American nurse based in the UK named Elaine Smith noticed that the local chaplain was accompanied by a golden retriever when visiting     patients. She recognised the difference this made to patients during recovery. When Nurse Smith moved back to the US, she started an organisation     called 'Therapy Dogs International'. As a result of this development, a charity called 'Pets as Therapy' is today's leading UK provider of animals in hospitals, care homes, nursing homes and hospices. This organisation was founded in 1983, and since then, it has worked with over 20,000 dogs to provide therapeutic visits to thousands of patients and care home residents. 'Pets as Therapy' currently have around 4,500 dogs and 108 cats who visit more than 130,000 people every week. Pet Therapy at SwarthmoreOur 'Pets as Therapy' dog 'Thula' has been visiting Swarthmore for around 3 years with her owner Didi. How it all began – Didi's daughter came up with the idea as she also had dogs, so Didi decided she would also put her dog forward as a therapy dog. A range of tests were carried out to determine whether the dog was suitable. Didi immediately thought that 'Thula' had failed. The assessment was at an assessor's home and she had just baked fresh bread. Of course, Thula loves food, so her senses took over! Use your imagination to think what happened next!! However, to Didi's surprise 'Thula' passed the assessment with flying colours, so the hunt was on to find a care home to visit. Didi was a nurse working in a hospital and came across information about care homes looking for pet therapy for their residents. Finding a care home was not an easy task, so Didi knocked on the doors of Swarthmore and was directed up to our Activities Co-ordinator to discuss. It was one of those coincidental moments that Ann-Marie and her colleague were discussing pet therapy and in walks Didi with the offer of a PAT dog. Neither of them could believe the way the opportunity came together. Thula is a collie-cross poodle, a gorgeous bundle of fluff. He is so placid and intelligent. At home, he is always on the go; he can be noisy too! He lets you know when he wants something, and he knows exactly when it is time to walk. His personality changes when visiting the home, his instincts kick in, and he is very placid. Thula is a trained agility dog who has won a number of awards in competitions. He only visits 'Swarthmore’ residents as a PAT dog. We have all become very attached. Visiting once a week is such a treat for everyone, with visits to individual rooms and communal areas. He will happily sit on laps, lay next to residents who cannot leave their bed, and happily sit by your side whilst you stroke him. Thula brings happiness and relaxation to the home. The minute he walks into a room, you can see the residents face light up. It is quite an emotional experience for anyone to see. It is also a reminiscence experience for people as it brings back memories of their pets or experiences in life. Some residents have become more and more confident with him over the years, which is also a positive change. One of our residents enjoys walking around the home with Thula to visit residents, creating a social experience and allowing them to pet the dog and talk amongst themselves.  Ann Marie’s pockets are always full of treats for him too. We really value Didi and Thula as part of the Swarthmore family, and look forward to many more visits. Statistics show the benefits of using Pet Therapy. Have a read of some interesting facts to consider if you would like to home a dog or cat for an elderly relative or considering pet therapy.     The experience of petting a dog or cat can reduce the amount of medication some people require; statistics show that people become less anxious as their breathing slows down. One of the hormones released from our body produces Phenylethylamine (PEA). This is the compound found in chocolate. It is thought to have positive effects on our mood, which acts as an anti-depressant. Still a nice treat but not as tasty as chocolate!.    For anyone having difficulty responding or able to connect with people, a connection is always made with a cat or dog, which brings a positive result..    Decreases the feeling of isolation and loneliness. A dog or cat fills a void..    Comforting and reduces boredom – allows you to go for walks, gives a sense of responsibility. .    It gives the motivation to recover from an illness much faster..    Encouraging body movement and increases our motor skills..    Statistics show that heart patients anxiety levels dropped by 24% when visited by a pet and their owner, with epinephrine levels (a hormone the body makes when under stress), dropping by up to 17%. If you would like to discover more details about pet therapy, please visit their website: https://petsastherapy.org/…

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Re-cap on April at Swarthmore 

April brought lots of sunshine and no showers!!! We welcomed two new members of staff to Swarthmore. Peter Hall, Maintenance & Facilities Co-ordinator and Jeanette White, Activities Co-ordinator. We wish them both well in their roles. A round up of activities for the month Reminiscing years gone by with articles from The Amersham Museum. The residents spent an afternoon discussing articles and their packaging, how things have changed! A copy of an old newspaper which celebrated the wedding pictures of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. We talked about the changes in product design, products used and luxury items we ate in years gone by. April was the month for moving and grooving. We spent lots of time working on exercises with our residents. Lots of genius ways to keep moving – such as ball exercises, cycling machines whilst watching a tour through the countryside, band exercises and armchair stretches. We are all feeling fit and healthy after a busy month thanks to Ann-Marie and Jeanette. Our living eggs were very successful, and we all enjoyed watching the chick’s progress. Easter was celebrated with a visit from the Easter Bunny (Avril) and enjoyed by all. We all enjoyed the donations of chocolate – thank you again to everyone. We have explored so many experiences over the last year through technology. Activities brought a virtual tour around the country to celebrate St Georges Day. The tour took us to Brecon Beacons, Stonehenge, and sights around London. Jeanette was the bus driver, Ann-Marie the tour guide. The afternoon finished with a quiz and a cream tea. How delicious and enjoyable.We are looking forward to the warmer weather so we can sit outside and admire our beautiful garden. The magnolia tree is coming to the end of the flowering season, we are now waiting for the wisteria and rhododendrons to bloom. Looking forward to warmer days. …

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Easter 

Oh what a happy time and the weather was perfect too. The residents decorated the home with an array of flowers for Easter.  The garden is starting to bloom with camellia's, magnolia and daffodils, we are so fortunate to have beautiful grounds to admire.Easter was celebrated with lots of chocolate delivered to all the residents, by our own Easter bunnies - Avril being the main star.  Easter bonnets were decorated with the help of the care team and worn by our lovely ladies.  A lovely afternoon tea was enjoyed by everyone with lots of donations from our local Waitrose store.  Thank you once again for your generosity.  We also enjoyed watching our chicks hatch over Easter.  This was an interesting week of being glued to watching the eggs hatch, watching in suspense whilst they hatched in the incubator.  Ann Marie was extra busy this week looking after the chicks and entertaining our residents.  This was a great project for everyone to watch throughout the week, lots of smiles and new conversations were had by all.   Happy Easter from Swarthmore.  …

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Month for Moving and Grooving 

It's the year for Moving and Grooving Swarthmore supports the campaign to increase physical activity amongst our residents NAPA (the National Activities Provider Association) supports a campaign within the care sector, known as the Year of Moving and Grooving, to prioritise physical activity and psychological and social wellbeing. Regular exercise increases our heart rate, which changes the way we breathe. Deeper breaths allow more oxygen into our bloodstream, removing more carbon dioxide that causes us to feel sluggish. If we have more energy, we can move around more easily, and we are less likely to feel weak. Movement helps our thinking skills, which helps us solve problems, make decisions and improve our memory. It will also lessen the aches and pains as we age. We all know that long periods of sitting can lead to loss of function. However, limited mobility does not mean you cannot exercise, as exercises themselves are adaptable to suit individual needs. It is never too late to engage in exercise; it is guaranteed to have a positive effect on your life. Exercise can lower your risk of developing, or help you manage, many chronic health conditions, including coronary heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and arthritis. It can also reduce the risk of depression, dementia and Alzheimer's. Exercise is also good for your mental wellbeing. It can: • improve your mood • increase your self-esteem • give you a sense of achievement • help you relax • relieve stress • improve your balance, strength, and agility • provide an opportunity to make friends if you join groups Exercising is even more enjoyable by including walking, gardening, dancing, armchair exercises. Some of us will be able to carry out other sports such as tennis, cycling or use of a gym. If you have a health condition or mobility problems, it’s essential to stay active. Areas that can help us keep moving: - Dancing: • Dancing provides us with the opportunity to engage with music and express ourselves physically. This is particularly positive for those who find it difficult to communicate verbally. • It allows us to express ourselves without using words • Balance and circulation improves and so does body strength • It is good for the brain as it combines memories and physical coordination • It helps us connect with other people     Quote – A dance a day keeps the doctor away! Music helps us relax, triggering the brain to remember those special memories throughout our lives, such as a memorable piece of music from a wedding day or a special birthday. Music is a vital tool when working with people with reduced verbal communication. Music helps to trigger a memory stored deep in our mind, which is especially important for those with dementia. Talk to people and find out about their life story - it may help trigger those special memories! The reaction can surprise us all. A great way to exercise to music is what we call 'Armchair Moving and Grooving'. Some people may want to sit and enjoy the music, whereas others prefer to move their arms, legs or just their feet. Walking is essential, even if you have limited mobility. Encouraging ourselves to walk more often is important; it may seem like a huge hurdle to get from A to B at times. Small but frequent movements can have a significant impact on our mental wellbeing and physical state. Areas that will help us improve our mobility include: • walking around the home from room to room • walking a short distance • a stroll around the garden to refill bird feeders or water the flowers. Try spending time in the garden when the weather is fine. Try digging, sweeping, weeding, or planting seeds in pots. This helps boost oxygen levels and help a person maintain coordination, balance, and stamina • a walk to the local park Stress balls can be a simple way of encouraging physical activity, especially for those with reduced mobility. This activity can help: • your hand-eye coordination and dexterity • Promote circulation and control • with physical challenges • improve manipulative skills At the same time, this will provide relaxation and fun amongst fellow residents. The activity can be carried out in small groups as well as individually. Gardening can provide many benefits and can quickly become an activity. • Enhanced wellbeing from being outdoors • Reduced symptoms of depression • Relaxation and satisfaction • Help improve mobility, especially with the hands • Plant pots with seeds – includes vegetables, flowers or herbs.  This can become a project watching them grow, transferring them to larger pots and enjoying the end produce As we age, sustaining a healthy lifestyle becomes an essential part of maintaining our day-to-day routines. It’s important to emphasise that a nutritional diet will impact wellbeing and independence. Nutrition and hydration are vital areas of life to maintain good health and mind, which prolongs life. It will also give you the energy to carry out exercises. • Exercise, together with lifestyle changes, reduce the risk of diabetes in high-risk older people. Statistics show a 71% decrease in diabetes among people 60 and older • Moderate exercise is effective at reducing stress and sleep problems in older women caring for a family member with dementia • Older people who exercise moderately are able to fall asleep quickly, sleep for longer and get a better quality of sleep • Research also found that exercise can improve balance and therefore reduces falls amongst older people by 33% • Walking and strength-building exercises by people with knee osteoarthritis help reduce pain and maintain function and quality of life • Physical activity allows us to maintain independence and management of our bodily functions. • Physical activity has a significant impact on the onset and progression of frailty, decline in muscle power and cardiorespiratory functions • One of the main factors of reduced mobility is a higher risk of falls within adults over 65. Try and aim to be physically active every day to reduce this risk • If you are physically fit and have a fall, you are more likely to recover more quickly than someone who doesn't take regular exercise ‘Physical activity’ is defined as any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles that require energy expenditure. Statistics show that carrying out physical activity at an older age improves our cognitive abilities; as we know, they slow down with age. We also need to recognise that frailer adults or those who have a very low physical or cognitive function, perhaps because of chronic disease such as arthritis or dementia, cannot carry out much exercise. Encouragement should be given towards a lighter programme to suit individual needs. Simple physical activities have a beneficial impact on older adults with depression, with a 20-30% reduction in further decline risk.Swarthmore programme for moving and grooving: 1100     Thursday 1st April          Gardening AM, walk through the garden 1145     Saturday 3rd April        Exercise with Sarra using the resistance  bands1430     Monday 5th April         Magic of the musicals with Kiddley-divey on                                                     DVD. Singalong and dance to music from Musicals                                                     and Songs about flowers, incorporating chair-based                                                     exercises1130      Tuesday 6th April        Armchair moving and grooving – music of your choice                                                      through Alexa 1145     Saturday 10th April       Gentle stretches with Sarra 1430    Monday 12th April         Toss the music ball, reminisce whilst keeping fit 1130     Tuesday 13th April         Move away from stress. Exercises incorporating our  stress balls and           games 1145     Saturday 17th April        Exercise with Sarra, using resistance bands 1430     Sunday 18th April          Tea dance afternoon with armchair grooves 1130      Tuesday 20th April         Parachute games using different sized balls 1130      Thursday 22nd April     Balloon volleyball and bean bag high jump 1130      Tuesday 27th April         Armchair moving and grooving 1430                                              Gardening and walk around the garden 1430     Monday 26th April         Walk to the local park, weather permitting 1130     Tuesday 27th April         Fit & Fun using mini cycles whilst watching country                                                              scenes on YouTube 1430     Thursday 29th April     Gaming Olympics using Wii Fun – residents and staff                                                      teamwork. Quiz Here is a 1960's Quiz down memory lane. See how many questions you can answer – no cheating!!!! It will get your memory working. 1. What was the name of the famous English four-piece band that came out of Liverpool? 2. What was the name of the first James Bond movie released in 1962 starring Sean Connery & Ursula Andrews? 3. In 1960, the most powerful earthquake ever recorded 9.5 on the Richter scale was where? 4. In which year did the show "Sesame Street" first air on television? 5. The first woman in space came from which country? 6. Which classic science fiction show began in 1966? 7. Who did John F Kennedy defeat in 1960 to win the presidential election? 8. In the late 1960s, the US Airforce released a report concluding there were no such things as UFOs or Extra Terrestrials. What was the name of the report? 9. What popular long-running soap opera still running on TV debuted in 1965? 10. In 1963, Martin Luther King Jnr gave a memorable speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. What was the name of that famous speech? 11. In 1960, four black college students sat in protest after being refused service at the lunch counter in which store in Greensboro North Carolina? 12. Who was the first man to walk on the moon in 1969? 13. In 1967 Dr Christian Barnard performed the first transplant of what human organ in South Africa? 14. Who famously sang happy birthday to John F Kennedy in 1962 (actually she sang Happy Birthday Mr President)? 15. Which famous boxer in 1964 changed his name from Cassius Clay to ….? 16. In 1962 three inmates escaped from which prison that was supposedly an inescapable prison near San Francisco? 17. Who was Harold Holt, and what happened to him? 18. Which president in the USA started the space race with the Soviet Union? Answers 1. The Beatles 2. Dr No 3. South America (Valdivia Earthquake) it caused global tsunamis & destruction 4. 1969 5. The Soviet Union. In 1963, Valentina Tereshkova spent almost 3 days in the Vostok 6 space capsule, orbiting Earth 48 times 6. Star Trek 7. Richard Nixon 8. Project Blue Book 9. Days of our lives 10. I Have A Dream 11. Woolworths 12. Neil Armstrong 13. Heart 14. Marilyn Monroe 15. Muhammad Ali 16. Alcatraz 17. The Australian Prime minister, who died in 1967 after going for a swim in the ocean in Portsea, Victoria. He disappeared, feared drowned his body was never recovered. 18. John F Kennedy…

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Re-cap on March Activities

We started the month looking at wildlfe in the gardens and making bird feeders for the grounds.14th March, Mothers Day - We had an afternoon with all our special mothers together enjoying Afternoon Tea, chocolate, flowers and a Gin and Tonic to wash it down.  So spoilt .........  17th March, St Patricks Day - An afternoon of watching River Dance on TV, enjoying poems and a traditional drink in the afternoon.  We had fun wearing appropriate props whilst enjoying the music and dance.  23rd March - We celebrated the National day of Reflection - see our article in the Newsfeed29th March, Visit from St Mary's Girls School - Year 2 walked around to Swarthmore in the glorious sunshine.  They sang and danced to a couple of songs they rehearsed.  The girls gave their performance on the patio and the residents watched from the activities area, within the home.  Year 2 made a beautiful Easter card and delivered a large bouquet of flowers for the home.  We made sure the Easter bunny left lots of chocolate eggs for the girls to enjoy.  Thank you so much we thoroughly enjoyed your visit and look forward to seeing you again throughout the year.30th March - Wow what a beautiful day.  It was like a Summers day, we had to get the sun hats out.  A day to enjoy our beautiful grounds.…

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National Day of Reflection 

A Year of Reflection Spring 2020 No one was expecting and I feel still cannot believe we have all been through a worldwide pandemic. Covid 19 brought all kinds of change to everyone’s lives and we are still learning to deal with the changes every day. As the vaccine programme rolls out, we all hope and pray that life will return to normal soon. A reflection of how Swarthmore has dealt with changes throughout the year. Claire Allsopp, Home Manager decided to take an early lockdown based on the news about Covid 19. The decision made was to lock down the home 3 weeks earlier than recommended. This was no easy decision but the main reason for this was to keep residents and staff as safe as possible. We had to source PPE ourselves, kind donations from family members, local businesses, and staff. Additional measures were put into place such as deeper cleaning using additional antibacterial products by our amazing housekeeping team. PPE was worn by all staff entering the home, residents were asked to remain in the home. We took regular checks such as temperature/oxygen sats in case anyone was showing signs of infection. We continue to do so as a precaution. We started to use Zoom, WhatsApp, and video calls with families so all our residents could keep in contact with their loved ones during the first lockdown period. Making the decision to lockdown meant that families/friends and any other person visiting the home were no longer able to do so. This decision obviously played on everyone’s mind, especially Claire’s. Lying in bed one evening she was unable to sleep, so with thoughts running through her mind about the pandemic, she decided to post a request on Swarthmore’s Facebook Page. Claire asked for people to write or email letters to residents to help cheer them up during this difficult time. As a result, we were inundated with wonderful letters, pictures, chocolates, CDs and so on. Several schools from near and far were set class projects, letters and painted rocks were sent from Australia, local author donated several books, our councillor donated games, supermarkets gave us chocolates, the local temple offered goodie bags for staff to say thank you and uniform scrubs were made, along with crochet bands to help alleviate painful ears from wearing mask, Bucks Fire rescue donated visors. We could not believe the response of kind wishes from people all over the world. The letters continued for months afterwards and we have created a memory album for the future as a result. We tried to respond to as many letters as we could at the time, as we were so grateful to everyone. It became a regular discussion with the residents as we read the letters during activities. Claire was contacted by ITN due to the size of the response to her Facebook request. ITN came to the home and filmed some of our residents through the windows and doors, discussing the response to the letters received from people all over the world. One of our residents also received a bouquet of flowers after the news went live. If you would like to see the Swarthmore on ITN 10 O’clock news, please follow the link through our website on the Newsfeed – direct link belowhttps://www.swarthmorecarehome.org.uk/post/news/1/237/itv-news-warm-wishes-from-around-the-world/ Summer After a period of lockdown, we followed the next set of Government guidelines which allowed meeting families again under tight restrictions. We designated our Quiet Room for residents to meet with families etc. We placed a Perspex screen between the room and the patio area outside. This meant that socially distanced visits were carried out to retain the safety of everyone inside and outside the home. This worked very well whilst the weather permitted. In the meantime, we started to research options of how we could continue visits in a safe and secure environment. Ann Marie, Activities Co-ordinator organised our very first Sports Day. The weather was amazing, so everyone came outside to either take part or cheer everyone on during the events. Staff and residents took part in lots of games and races while wearing masks! We had wheelchair races, sack race, football games, hula hoops and so on. We had our very own football coach Mr Tony Doherty who put the staff through their paces with football trials. Sack races had to be the most entertaining as they jumped their way to the finishing line. Awards for All at the end of the afternoon – rosettes and badges were presented to staff and residents. The afternoon was complete with an ice cream; we arranged for a local ice cream van to come to Swarthmore where everyone chose a flavoured ice cream which was delicious. A great afternoon of fun and games was welcomed by everyone at Swarthmore. We also had our first Patio entertainers, singers and musicians who stood outside and played and sang to our residents. We are fortunate that we have a beautiful garden for residents to enjoy. We made the most of it last year. Autumn After months of research, we were fortunate to be able to purchase a Visitor Pod for future visits between residents, families, and friends. This is a purpose-built, private visiting space that provides a safer environment for residents and their families, by significantly reducing the risk of infection. The Visitor Pod is a comfortable place with windows for ventilation and ramps for easy wheelchair access. When using the pod, residents can safely ‘socially distance’ from their visitors thanks to a clear screen with a two-way intercom. Emergency call points have been installed on both sides of the Pod which is sanitised between visits and a daily deep clean. The facility is limited to two visitors at any one time, ensuring both residents and their families are as safe as possible. The pod has already provided countless hours of private, safe visiting time for our residents and their loved ones. We continue to follow Government Guidelines to keep our residents and staff as safe as possible. During the pandemic it has been very difficult to continue with our community events due to restrictions. This meant that all activities were taken on board in house. A national campaign we were delighted to get involved with was inspired by Katrina Cole and the children at Gee Cross Holy Trinity School movement, so we contacted our local school, St Marys Girls School in Gerrards Cross. Each year Swarthmore residents would normally visit the school to watch their Christmas productions and other events during the year. The only way we were able to communicate this year, was through this campaign. On Wednesday 9th December, teachers and pupils took a short walk to Swarthmore Care Home and delivered amazing artwork which contained lots of warm wishes. The residents sat in the dining room, peering through the windows, waiting in suspense for the girls and teachers to arrive. As they approached the dining room window, we saw smiling faces and waving hands appearing in the distance. The arrival of new faces brought delight, happiness, and tears of joy. The residents were amazed that these girls took the time to come and wish everyone a ‘Merry Christmas’. The girls performed a dance and sang ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ which was wonderful and very much appreciated by all our residents and staff at Swarthmore. Hearts and Poems were exchanged with some chocolates for the girls to be shared later. Winter Christmas time for anyone is normally full of fun, lots of visitors and just a general buzz in the air. We would normally have lots of entertainment in the home from external production companies, musicians, visit from Santa and much more. Once again Ann Marie came up with a wonderful idea of a Pantomime. A production script of ‘Sleeping Beauty’ was put to the members of staff and before we knew it scripts were passed around and lines were learnt. The cast included a Narrator, king, queen, nanny, jester, several fairies, fairy godmother, evil fairy, prince, princess, and a minstrel. Costumes to suit were handed out, we had a makeshift backdrop for the stage in the lounge area and off we went to ‘break a leg’ so they say on stage! Lots of singing and dancing in between scenes, we even served ice cream during the break. The residents thoroughly enjoyed the performance and thanked everyone at the end. This was one of those special moments, able to see the pleasure this brought to the residents that afternoon. Families and members of staff put together a video of warm wishes which was shown to the residents on Christmas Day. As families and friends were only able to visit residents in our Visitor Pod we thought it would bring another special and different moment to the residents day. Without technology it would have been very difficult for everyone – without Zoom and WhatsApp contact would have been almost impossible for residents and families to have contact. We were fortunate enough to receive 2 iPads via the NHS government scheme, we were chosen as a winner from an insurance company after a relative nominated the home for the wonderful care her mother received at the end of her life. It’s amazing how we all adapt in these unprecedented times, and how quickly we have managed to learn new skills Vaccination Programme We were one of the first in Buckinghamshire and one of six care homes in England to be chosen to have in home vaccinations. We have a good relationship with the Chiltern Care commissioning group (CCCG) and we were delighted to welcome the team in on 17th December. Staff are tested once a week, and residents once a month. We also test staff twice weekly with the Lateral Flow Device (LFD). This is what our visitors and contactors also use. One year on With new guidance we welcomed back visitors recently, one named person per resident as well as a continuation of visitors in the pod as many visitors are themselves shielding. PPE, restrictions, NHS app and technology are now part of our ‘norm’. Today marks a year of reflection of Covid19 in the UK and we joined with the nation to remember the residents we have lost during this time, staff members who have lost family and friends due to Covid and for all of us who have in one way or another experience loss over the last year. Today, we also took time to reflect on how we have reinforced the values of Swarthmore in the home and with each other appreciating what each of the values mean in much more depth than perhaps this time last year- namely caring, community, peace, integrity. We are also grateful for the hard work of all keyworkers and the resilience of our amazing residents who have made this all worthwhile. …

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February highlights

Spring is on its way – we have a beautiful carpet of crocus forming at the bottom of the garden and the daffodils are out in bloom. I am looking forward to the sunshine appearing more regularly and hopefully the temperature will turn up a few degrees. I am sure this will lift our spirits and put a spring in our step moving forward. We have enjoyed the month of February with lots of interesting discussions organised by Ann Marie, here are the highlights: Birthday Celebrations An amazing lady celebrated her 107th birthday. Kitty received a birthday card with warm wishes from her Majesty the Queen. We celebrated in style with everyone at Swarthmore with afternoon tea and a special cake, singing and a few dances. We also saw another celebration for a wonderful gentleman who has reached the age of 99. Howard enjoyed a celebration cake and lots of delightful gifts from his family. Discussions Ann Marie and Claire held discussions about ‘dignity’ and what this means to everyone. A Digni-tree was provided so we could place our expressions on a note and hang on a tree so everyone could view and understand how important this is to everyone. One of our residents gave a talk around ‘Quaker Tapestry’ which everyone found very interesting. Below is short read of how it all began: The idea began at the Friends Meeting House in Taunton in 1981 by a boy called Jonathan Stocks. At the age of 11 he felt that the children’s meeting room needed cheering up. Anne was a professional embroider, who had been studying the Bayeux Tapestry. She had a vision of a Quaker tapestry which would be a series of panels illustrating an event or idea from the history of Quaker’s. Each panel was researched, designed then embroidered. A panel was created by different meetings, Anne would oversee the designs to keep it unified. The Tapestry was made by over 4,000 men, women, and children from 15 countries over a period of 15 years and 77 panels, hung chronologically. The tapestry is worked in crewel embroidery yarns on a handwoven woollen background. In addition to using four historic and well-known stitches such as split, stem, chain stitch and the perking knot. Wynn-Wilson invented a new corded stitch which became known as the Quaker stitch; this stitch allowed for tight curves on the lettering. Zoom Meetings We held live zoom meetings with Anne Park, discussions around topics such as french knitting, garden flowers, favourite drinks – of course most popular was a Gin & Tonic! Chinese New Year We celebrated the day with a Chinese lunch. Thanks to our Chef Kuli who created a wonderful Chinese lunch which was enjoyed by everyone. We spent The afternoon was spent talking about the Year of the Ox and the celebrations held throughout this period. Each year has an animal sign in the Chinese Zodiac (this is represented by a circle of animals). The Zodiac is based on the Moon and has a 12-year cycle, the planet Jupiter also has the same cycle, this takes about 12 years to orbit the sun. However, there is also a cycle of five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water. Altogether this creates a 60-year cycle, so the year of the Ox has not happened for 60 years!Looking forward to seeing what March brings – lighter mornings and evenings, warmer weather…………………….. …