Dec 18

Christmas is all about community

Posted: 17 December 2018

Sandra Anderson, Registered Manager at The Millings, talks about how her service interacts with the local community, to encourage engagement and prevent loneliness over the festive season and beyond.

As a manager, I’m constantly looking to see what’s going on in the community and how we can get involved. We always have a busy calendar of activities in and around the local community, and Christmas in no different.

Throughout the year we go to our local community hall for regular coffee mornings, and this has helped us to fundraise for our Christmas entertainment.

One thing we always try to do as a treat around this time of year, is to take everyone for lunch at a local restaurant, including residents, their families and staff. It’s lovely to see the whole service together and enjoying themselves. Going out into the community like this removes our residents from the context of ‘being in a care home’, which really changes the way people interact with them.

We have a great activities team that arrange these visits, led by Sandy Carter. Our staff support residents when going out into the community, and respond to their individual requests and concerns. For example one resident put a request into our suggestion box to visit the local garden centre for Christmas decorations. So Sandy organised a trip for her and two other residents to the centre for morning coffee and shopping for gifts and decorations for her bedroom. You get a lot of satisfaction from finding out what our residents want to do and then making it happen.

As well as our external visits, all of these community connections means that we always have different groups of people in our home. This is a great chance for our residents to speak to new people, and keep in touch with what’s going on locally.

For example, the local knitting group now come into the home after they lost their regular meeting venue, and we host meetings of the University of the Third Age. Our residents are welcome to join in both of these groups.

We’ve also built relationships with local schools, who we have lots of interactions with over the festive period. Our residents go up to the local school, Mowbray, to watch their Christmas play. This is a real treat for the residents and staff; we often find ourselves tearful at the end!

The local nursery school also comes into the home, and at Christmas they sing carols and do colouring-in with the residents; as a thank you the residents enjoy giving the children gifts.

We’ve made most of these connections through specific teachers who are looking to involve their students in particular projects with our residents. For example one project we’ve been involved in is where Mowbray School students have been in to teach our residents how to use computers.

These regular visits means that students get to know our residents, and I find the real value from these sorts of visits comes from the conversations that our residents get to take part in. People think activities have to be something you’re doing, but sometimes the secret is just to give residents the chance to sit, chat to different people and talk about whatever they want to talk about.

These connections have also benefited other areas of the business. For example I used to go into another high school to talk to students about working in adult social care.

Making our community connections and keeping in contact can be tricky, but I’ve been working at The Millings for 18 years, and over time have built these links. There’s so much you can do but one thing you have to learn as a manager is that you can’t do everything.

Every year in December we invite all our community contacts to a Christmas party. These include residents’ families, local students who come in to serve food and district nurses and local GPs who join us for drinks and something to eat. It’s a way to say thank you for supporting us throughout the year.

Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas and new year from everyone at The Millings.


Sandra Anderson is a registered manager member of Skills for Care. Find out more about the benefits of membership at www.skillsforcare.org.uk/membership.

Get more stories, tips and resources to support your service this Christmas at www.skillsforcare.org.uk/CareAtChristmas. You can also follow our 12 days of Christmas advent calendar on Twitter using #CareAtChristmas.