Care home worker: “I love working on Christmas day!”
Communities / Sun 24th Dec 2023 at 11:12am
A CARER from a Waltham Abbey care home has been going above and beyond to make the festive season special for the home’s residents and she is looking forward to spending Christmas day with them.
Honey Lane, on Margherita Road, is a 38-bed specialist residential dementia care home. They are rated ‘Good’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and have recently been awarded ‘Highly Commended’ at the Great British Care Awards 2023 for their ‘Dementia Care’.
Head of lifestyles, Lisa Gammalliere, is among the dedicated team at the home who have been making Christmas “magical” for the residents.
“I love working on Christmas Day!” she says, “We all do this job because we care so much about the residents and it means everything to us to see them happy. We’ve all worked really hard as a team to make our home look magical because we want it to be perfect for them.”
“Coming into work on Christmas Day is very heart-warming as I get to see my second family. I can’t wait to see the joy on our residents’ faces on Christmas morning when Santa arrives and hands them their presents, their smiles are priceless.”
Lisa began working at the home in 2021 and this is her third Christmas with the residents at Honey Lane.
“If I wasn’t spending Christmas here, I’d be with my family, my sisters and nieces,” she says. “A typical Christmas at home for me would be going to 10am mass, helping Mum with the dinner, sitting round the table with the family eating and playing cards and then gathering in the living rooms to watch the soaps.
“It’s a special Christmas this year because I have a new nephew who is two months old and the first boy in the family, but I will see them all in the evening. I’ve been working in care for the last 23 years and I think I’ve only had three Christmases where I wasn’t working so my family have got used to it!”
After meeting Santa, who will hand out gifts in the home’s lounge, as well as meeting residents in their bedrooms, everyone will enjoy a homemade Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.
The home’s team have organised and hosted a variety of Christmas events during the build-up to the big day, including Christmas karaoke, live entertainers, and a Christmas party with a blow-up VIP bar. They have just enjoyed their annual Christmas light switch complete with real life reindeer who, along with Santa Claus, met residents outside, in the home’s lounge and even in resident’s bedrooms. Members of the community joined them for the occasion along with children from the home’s fortnightly playgroup sessions, the ‘Honey Bees’ and Reverend Jane led the church choir who sang by the Christmas tree.
“It was so beautiful”, says Lisa. “Our residents’ friends, family and loved ones were invited too, as they are part of our home’s family, and it was very special to all be together.
“There was a sleigh that people were having photographs in, the lights were magical, and everyone enjoyed the countdown to them being lit up and of course the reindeer stole the show!”
It was love at first sight for respite resident Mary Battson, 78, who is enjoying her first Christmas at Honey Lane Care Home since joining three months ago. She attended the party with her husband, John, who is a regular visitor at the home. “The reindeer were brilliant” she says, “I would love to have one in my garden!
“It’s been a wonderful festive season so far, from the decorations to the activities. I’m really enjoying it.”
Care home manager, Angela Sacks, says, “I’m really proud of the team, they care so much about the residents. They can’t do enough for them, whether that’s making our home look incredibly festive or arranging events for the whole community to enjoy.
“We will spend Christmas day as one big family and it’s heart-warming that the team enjoy it as much as the residents do.”