Care homes in the south raised cuppas to press for vital support during the pandemic for families living with dementia.

Residents and staff across Colten Care’s 21 homes observed safe distancing as they enjoyed Dementia UK’s virtual tea party, Time For a Cuppa Together.

Among those involved were two dementia care homes rated Outstanding by sector regulator the Care Quality Commission, Fernhill in Longham, Dorset, and Linden House in Lymington, Hampshire. 

At Linden House, more than a dozen residents took part in a traditional afternoon tea with cupcakes, cake stands and tea pots, followed by dancing, in their village hall-themed room, Bucklers Hall. 

On show was a giant papier mache teapot which they and staff members had made earlier in arts and crafts sessions. 

The event was so successful, the home is looking to hold a similar get-together, Tea on the Terrace, every month. 

Resident Trilby Mills said: “We had a lovely afternoon. It was absolutely delightful and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience.”  

Fernhill raised more than £1,000 for Dementia UK on its own by combining its afternoon tea with the Marathon Challenge, a separate bid to help charities affected by the cancellation of this year’s London Marathon.

Staff and residents completed 26 activities all linked to the number 26, reflecting the 26 miles in a marathon and the date the London event would have been on – 26 April.  

They sang 26 songs in 26 minutes, separated out 26 red buttons from a collection of badges, pins and broaches, and one team member, Minibus Driver Guy Shepherd, underwent a 2.6-minute shave to lose his handlebar moustache. 

As well as Linden House and Fernhill, there were tea parties at Colten Care’s two other dementia care homes, St Catherines View in Winchester and The Aldbury in Poole. Several non-dementia-specific homes also took part. 

Funds raised from Time for a Cuppa Together will go to support Dementia UK’s national helpline which enables families affected by dementia to access the support of specialist Admiral Nurses. 

The helpline has experienced a surge in calls during the pandemic, with many carers and people with dementia reporting that they feel overwhelmed and do not know who to turn to. The helpline is there for anyone living and supporting someone with dementia.

Colten Care’s Consultant Admiral Nurse Adam Smith said: “Families with a loved one who has dementia need support more than ever during these incredibly challenging and isolating times. 

“It was lovely to see our residents and staff get behind the idea of the virtual tea party to help. It worked really well.”

Dr Hilda Hayo, Chief Admiral Nurse and CEO at Dementia UK, said: “When normal support networks have closed down, our helpline nurses are imparting invaluable emotional support and practical advice.

“Colten Care’s support will allow more helpline nurses to help families through these uncertain times.”

Colten Care’s own dementia care strategy includes regular drop-in sessions with Adam and fellow Admiral Nurse Kay Gibson, support for Dementia Action Alliances in the communities served by all its 21 homes, and an ‘Ask-an-Admiral Nurse’ website –  www.coltencare.co.uk/admiral-nurse.

The Dementia UK helpline is 0800 888 6678.

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