“My mum has been calling me relentlessly the past few weeks reminding me to come down for this. She’s been looking forward to taking part. I’m glad that I came. We’ve had a lovely time and want to see more of this” ~ Son of a resident

February is a key month in the fashion world with the four major fashion capitals of the world, London, New York, Paris and Milan, hitting the catwalks to show off their upcoming collections and so, not wanting to miss out on the fashionista experience, Orchard House Care Home in Wisbech decided to host their own fashion show for their residents to enjoy. Spaced out over the year, the razzle dazzle of Movies beat away the February blues, and there are still Beach Chic and Winter Wardrobe shows to look forward to later in the year.

This was a fashion show with a twist though – not content with simply putting on a show for the residents to watch, the team at Orchard House encouraged residents to be the stars of their own show by having them dress up as icons from their favourite movies and strutting down the catwalk themselves. A person-centred approach is fundamental to the care provided at the Wisbech based residential dementia and nursing care home, and so residents were involved from start to finish, from determining the outfits they wanted to wear to helping to design and create their own runway to narrating the event itself.

Preparation is key to any endeavour, so the care home was thrilled when students from the Beauty Department of College of West Anglia (Wisbech) kindly volunteered their time to provide a truly glamourous Hollywood experience for all by doing their hair and makeup before they took their spots centre stage. The Drama Department from the College of West Anglia (King’s Lynn) were also very generous in lending the residential dementia and nursing care home a number of outfits.

One of our residents who was on stage as the Queen for the day was made to feel like a queen, with her hair and makeup being done by the great students. She was all smiles from the moment she met the students, to when she came out on the catwalk!”

From a Minion to Red Riding Hood to Audrey Hepburn, there were a number of interesting characters to grace the stage, and to also go on tour afterwards too, visiting the room of any resident unable to make it down to the show so that they didn’t miss out on the fun either. One resident remarked “I had a really nice time today. I like seeing everyone all dressed up. It feels really special”.

It wasn’t just the residents, families and local members of the community who loved the day, but the staff too, with one noting “Everyone came together to make this first one (show) happen. We want our next ones to be bigger and better!” and another observing We didn’t quite realise how much difference something like this would make. Some of the residents got tearful and very emotional seeing us in costume. We love that it makes a difference!”

Maxine Bain, registered manager of the care home, commented “A fun and engaging event such as this is a great way to improve social inclusiveness, stimulate recall and encourage reminiscence, whilst also improving self-esteem and the well-being of our residents. We’re excited for the next two shows we have later in the year, especially as the overarching project aligns closely with our dementia strategy, By Your Side, which itself is underpinned both by evidence-based research and is supported by world-leading expert Professor Dawn Brooker and her team from the Association of Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester.

Following the success of our events over Christmas and New Year, and the noticeable impact that substantial participation in them had on our residents with many finding those events even more enjoyable and stimulating than usual, we are keen to continue innovative and collaborative ideas such as these.”

*Names of residents have not been disclosed for anonymity purposes