Cherishing the elderly
From Friday 5th to Sunday 7th October, RCH Care Homes and our children’s nursery, Jelly Beans, joined the whole nation in commemorating Silver Sunday.
Led by The Sir Simon Milton Foundation, Silver Sunday falls on the first Sunday in October of every year. The day is a celebration of the older generation’s continued and valued contribution to society and our lives.
“Cherishing the elderly is one of the best things we can do, and we better do it right!” — Milana Braide, Deputy Manager at Park View Care Centre (Ashford)
Stamping out loneliness
The stats around loneliness in the UK are staggering:
- Over 9 million people in the UK say they are always or often lonely, but almost two-thirds feel uncomfortable admitting to it
- Over half of all people aged 75 and over live alone
- 3.9 million elderly people in the UK say that television is their main company
Westminster City Councillor Christabel Flight and members of the Sir Simon Milton Foundation launched Silver Sunday in 2012. The day came about because they were shocked at findings highlighting the sheer scale of loneliness and isolation among the elderly. At that time, more than a third of people over 75 said they felt lonely.
This national day was launched as a means to integrate the isolated back into society. Silver Sunday encourages older people from the local communities to try something new, and make new friends. As well as the friends and families of our residents, we were delighted to welcome guests from Age UK , The Joe Fagg Community Centre, residents from local care homes, and walk-ins from the local communities. Our residents were keen to prove that you’re never too old to make new friends.
While every day at RCH is a celebration and full of activities for our residents, it was a privilege for us to join in with the festivities on this
“I always believe that the elders in my family are the reason for my success” — R. Madhavan, actor, writer, producer
The Silent Generation needn’t be silent
The residents we are so proud to care for at RCH are often known as ‘The Silent Generation’ — a collective term for those born between the mid-1920s and mid-1940s.
Following the ‘G.I. Generation’ and preceding the ‘Baby boomers’, it’s widely believed that the term originated from the fear of speaking out to bring about political or social change during the 1940s and 50s.
The 1960s brought liberation, and The Silent Generation began to speak up. Unfortunately, many people of The Silent Generation have gone full circle and find themselves in silence again.
At RCH Care Homes, we strive to ensure that this isn’t the case. Our celebrations on Silver Sunday were a prime example of how we continue to address the blight of loneliness and isolation in local communities which, unfortunately, affects so many people as they grow older.
Fun, love and laughter
Silver Sunday was a day of fun, love, and laughter across our ten care homes.
Many of our residents, staff, and guests dressed in suitably silly fancy dress outfits. From wartime uniforms to 1950s poodle skirts, and even a Mad Hatter running around, we had it all covered.
“There was a great atmosphere created by the staff, visitors, and most of all, the residents. Silver Sunday really motivated everyone and raised our spirits even higher” — Vicky Tebbutt, Care Home Advanced Practitionerat The Withens Nursing Home (Gravesend)
Costume change: Sally-Ann Briggs, Danny Ward and Linda Cotterell
Sally-ann Briggs, General Manager at Kesson House Care Centre and The Withens Nursing Home (both in Gravesend) managed not one, but two costume changes. Starting the day in full flower-power mode for the 1960s theme at The Withens, she rushed across town to become the Cheshire Cat for Kesson House’s Alice in Wonderland theme.
Even the Mayor of Dartford, Cllr David Mote, didn’t want to miss out on the 60s vibe: he ditched his robes for the day in favour of coming as Austin Powers.
“Reliving the 60s through the fashion, hairstyles, makeup, and music made the day very special, and the wide grin on the residents’ faces was the cherry on the cake” — Toyin Johnson, Administrator at The Withens Nursing Home (Gravesend)
5*: Richard Krasij, Head Chef at Brentwood
Once again, our highly talented chefs did us proud by laying on 5* breakfasts, lunches, afternoon teas and buffets for our residents, guests, and their families and friends. A resident at Orchard House Nursing Home (Wisbech) told us that she particularly loved the breakfast; the smoked salmon brought back fond memories of holidays in Europe with her husband.
Cue the music
Dutch courage? Brentwood resident Eileen Williams enjoys a tipple before some impromptu karaoke
From the sweeping sounds of 1940s Dame Vera Lynn to the raucousness of 1950s rock ‘n’ roll, from Sinatra’s swing to swinging 60s pop; live music rang out from each of our homes.
91-year-old Brentwood Care Centre resident Eileen Williams even took the mic for some impromptu karaoke. She sang a beautiful rendition of Vera Lynn's 1943 hit, You'll Never Know. There wasn't a cue card or a dry eye in sight. Whether a drop of champers gave Eileen some Dutch courage is still unknown.
“Terrific entertainment” — Ruth, a visitor to Woodlands Care Centre (Cambridge)
Queens Court resident Horace Mitchell welcomed his daughter who flew all the way from down under to be there in time for Silver Sunday. Horace was a huge Frank Sinatra fan but sadly bedbound. Before the day kicked off, the fantastic Ray Lowe serenaded Horace in his room with his favourite Sinatra songs to ensure he didn’t miss out.
Beer o'clock: Queens Court resident George Wright
"Thank you for bringing in the singer — the personal touch means a lot. We were overjoyed when you remembered him. We thank you for all your hard work since he’s been here” — Horace Mitchell’s daughter
Rick Stills, a seasoned musician, singer, and performer has been in the business since 1966 and played electric guitar for Park View Care Centre in Ashford. He belted out rock and pop classics through the decades.
John Barry also went electric when performing for our residents at Orchard House Nursing Home, Wisbech. John has entertained armed forces worldwide, but this time took his extensive repertoire to our care home in Cambridgeshire.
“Very enjoyable — same again next year, please!”— Jean & John, visitors to Woodlands Care Centre (Cambridge)
Interactive: Debbie Watt and Romford resident Joan Kelly
Our Romford Nursing Care Centre (Essex) saw worldwide performer Debbie Watt cover a range of genres. Debbie has travelled the globe with touring shows, performed in front of thousands of people in theatres, arenas, and stadiums, and worked with internationally acclaimed musicians. Residents warmed to her endearing personality and interactive show.
Turning back time: Louise Stuckey performs at Manton Heights, Bedford
Louise Stuckey of Vintage Variety Vocals took us back in time at Manton Heights Care Centre (Bedford); the talented vocalist performed wartime classics while looking every inch the 1940s pin-up girl.
We'll meet again: Wartime singer Kate Bassett with Maidstone resident Margaret Finey
Kate Bassett from Care Home Entertainers UK was in her usual fine voice and sang wartime hits while donning a full military uniform at Maidstone Care Centre (Maidstone).
The next best thing to the man himself — a terrific Elvis impersonator — even made an appearance at Kesson House Care Centre (Gravesend). The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll went down a storm with his swiveling hips and gyrating body movements.
“That took me back to the days spent dancing” — Alice Bidwell, a resident at Kesson House Care Centre (Gravesend)
Visitors to Woodlands Care Centre (Cambridge) were thoroughly entertained by their 1950s singer, with one claiming: “Today has been the best event I’ve ever been to”. A resident from a local care home in Cambridge revealed her desire to move to Woodlands having enjoyed the entertainment and activities so much.
Dancing the night away: Kirsty Riches with Brentwood resident Isobel Corden
Busting a move
“How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?” — Satchel Paige, baseball player
Residents proved that age is just a number by busting their moves and burning up the dancefloor. While they caught their breath between dances, they reminisced about their dancing days. Betty Simpson, a resident at Manton Heights Care Centre in Bedford, proudly informed us of all of the times she used to go ballroom dancing with her husband.
Cutting shapes on the dancefloor: Sara Barbosa and Maidstone resident Carole Millward
“The concentration on the residents’ faces while dancing was a joy to watch. One resident (from Kesson House Care Centre), Gary Whalin, spent ages dancing and playing his inflatable guitar. He was still full of it on the following Monday!” — Sally-ann Briggs, General Manager
Even our more immobile residents didn’t let anything get in their way of feeling the beat and
stamping their feet.
“Residents who usually decline to dance were encouraged to, and wow, what movers!” — Deborah Barnes, Activities Coordinator at Manton Heights Care Centre (Bedford)
Harlem in Kent: The Maidstone Lindy Hoppers
The Maidstone Lindy Hoppers hopped their way through our Maidstone Care Centre with their unique jazz dance, bringing a little 1940s Harlem to Kent. From the first sound of the music, residents got involved as it was so infectious.
“They were dressed from the era, and it was lovely that they made so much effort. When the residents saw them dancing and heard the music, they got up and danced — they didn’t want to sit back down!” — Amy Roberts, Activities Coordinator at Maidstone Care Centre
In, out, in, out, shake it all about: the Mayor of Maidstone, Cllr David Naghi, gets involved
Millis Dance Theatre came to Queens Court Nursing Home in Buckhurst Hill to perform their
version of Strictly.
“Great as always, we love seeing mum enjoy herself and smiling” — Helen Wharton’s daughter, a resident at Queens Court Nursing Home (Buckhurst Hill)
Residents getting their kicks: a dancer from Millis Dance Theatre at Queens Court, Buckhurst Hill
Not wanting to be outdone, a local Irish dance group, also wowed the crowd with high kicks and even higher spirits.
“I loved it. The little Irish dancer was my favourite. They were all good, but she was definitely my favourite!”— June Campbell, a resident at Queens Court Nursing Home (Buckhurst Hill)
Entertainment and guests
Forever blowing bubbles: Bubbleologist Michael Fortune performs at Kesson House, Gravesend
However, it wasn’t just singing and dancing at RCH as we welcomed some other unique forms of entertainment too. Hartley Owls brought their owls and birds of prey to Kesson House, which proved to be a big hit. Residents, in awe of their size, were thrilled to get the chance to hold and stroke these beautiful creatures. From the African Spotted Eagle Owl to the European Eagle Owl and the Asian Brown Wood Owl — if there were ever a United Nations owls' meeting, then this would be it.
“What a marvellous time; the birds were so good” — Violet Pringle, a resident at Kesson House Care Centre (Gravesend)
Bubbleologist Michael Fortune performed at both Kesson and Withens. Fondly nicknamed “The Bubble Man” by residents, the proudly self-proclaimed “eccentric” took us on a magical journey into the wonderful science of bubbles, encasing staff and residents in human-sized bubbles. We will never look at bubbles in the same way again.
Keep dancing: Cllr Richard Bassett, Chairman of Epping Forest Council, and wife Sue
Residents also spent hours putting the world to right by chatting with mayors, police sergeants, MPs, and members of the council and press — all of which have already put in requests for invites for our next event.
Thank you to everyone who attended:
- Cllr David Naghi, Mayor of Maidstone
- Cllr David Mote, Mayor of Dartford
- Cllr Richard Bassett, Chairman of Epping Forest Council
- Cllr Vicky Davies, Liberal Democrat councillor representing Pilgrims Hatch
- Alex Burghart, Conservative MP for Brentwood and Ongar
The Mayor of Maidstone: Cllr David Naghi and staff at Maidstone Care Centre
“RCH at its best” — Colin, a visitor to Woodlands Care Centre (Cambridge)
The celebrations at Kesson House and Maidstone Care made it into the Gravesend Messenger and the Kent Messenger. We have given copies to the residents featured — some of which have been framed and now adorn their bedroom walls.
Pearl of wisdom
Swinging 60s: Vida Pazikaite, Sue Dixon, Samantha Brown, Janet Canning and Vicky Tebbutt at The Withens, Gravesend
One of the visiting members from a local church group left everyone at RCH with a pearl of
wisdom to ponder:
“Cherish all your happy moments — they make a fine cushion for your old age. But really, there is no such thing as ‘old age’. I’m no different inside than I was at fifty; I'm just having more fun because I am comfortable in my skin”
And now, we have big plans to ensure that residents can keep in touch with their new-found friends, which includes making sure they are tech-savvy with the latest methods of communication, as well as meeting them in person.
Our entertainers, guests, and visitors can't wait to come back, and we can't wait to see them back at our homes, too. A number of our guests from Silver Sunday have already firmed up their invites for upcoming events such as The Withens Diwali and Bonfire Night Fusion events on Monday 5th November.
At RCH, we don’t believe in residents being left to sit and stare into space; we believe in the best entertainment and events to provide them with constant stimulation and interaction. Elvis may have left the building for the time being, but our high spirits at RCH care homes haven’t where the fun, love, and laughter never stops.
If you’re interested in attending one of our upcoming events or in hosting an event at one of our homes, please either email email@example.com, call the home in question or, even better, drop in for a coffee and a chat.