Christmas comes to Campbell Ward

23rd December 2020

Gail St Juste Alcide
Senior staff nurse Gail St Juste Alcide says that the dementia ward’s Christmas celebrations will be as joyful as ever, despite the pandemic. 

A festive bubble 

We’re all in the same bubble on Campbell Ward, so we’ll be celebrating in the usual way. The only restriction is around visiting. We’ve been facilitating family calls on Zoom, so Pensioners will be able to see and chat with family members for as long as they like, just not physically. 

Familiar faces are important for people with dementia, so we make sure we have regular staff to look after them. 

Granting Christmas wishes 

At the beginning of December, we create a Christmas wish list of what the Pensioners would like for their gifts – one asked for pyjamas, another for a bottle of whisky. Then the Actitivies team find the gifts, wrap them and label them with the Pensioner’s name. If the Pensioner can’t speak, or they don’t have relatives, we try to think what they’d like. 

Usually, one of the staff will dress up as Santa – they’ll go round and give each Pensioner a gift, shake their hand and we’ll take a picture. They each get several presents and, with their permission, we’ll open their cards and read them for them. 

Turkey and all the trimmings 

On Christmas day, the Pensioners dress up with hats and join us for breakfast. We have a special lunch. There’s a family feel - staff wear Christmas jumpers and there are no uniforms. We decorate the tables with crackers and tealights and sit down with the Pensioners for turkey and Christmas pudding. 

There are other choices of food so everyone can have what they like. If a Pensioner can’t speak, we’ll go through the menu with them so they can point at what they’d like. It’s the same with washing and dressing – they might prefer a certain colour or to have their hair combed in a 

particular way, so we’ll give them the opportunity to decide. Giving people with dementia choices is important. If they think you’ve taken away their rights and responsibilities, they can get very unhappy. 

Christmas Tree in the Infirmary
Deck the halls! 

The week before Christmas we prepare the tree. We get the Pensioners involved in hanging things up – the Activities team helps them to make little baubles and decorations to decorate the tree and their doors. They enjoy this and you can see their childhood memories coming through and they’ll speak about happy times. There’s also a crib and tinsel on the wards. 

Our artist in residence helps the Pensioners with projects too- last year they made mini watercolour canvases for an advent calendar. 

We play lots of Christmas games and sing carols. The staff like singing and dancing and the Pensioners enjoy that. Music makes a big difference for people with dementia. If a Pensioner is unhappy or aggressive, we’ll take them to a quiet, dimly lit room where they can choose from different records. 

“We try to make Pensioners happy, Christmas or not: 

Christmas can be a difficult time. It heightens everything and if you don’t know someone’s likes and dislikes they can become aggressive or depressed. We get to know those ways. 

One Pensioner never liked Christmas because his son had died in an accident on Christmas day. During Christmas, his care would become one to one in his room, or in an area with no decorations. We didn’t talk about Christmas but gave him extra attention so he didn’t feel left out. Knowing a Pensioner’s story really helps with their care. We try to make Pensioners happy at all times, Christmas or not.

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