Christmas 2020 is shaping up to be a very different festive season. But while some of the usual celebrations may be out of reach, the Christmas spirit is very much alive and well at Baycroft Flitwick. Our receptionist, Nikki, joined us in the autumn of 2019 after a career in the care industry; we spoke to her about the difference between Christmas past and present.
As receptionist, how involved are you with residents?
I’ve always been involved with our residents day to day, but since lockdown even more so. We locked down in March, almost 9 months ago, so being front of house isn’t quite the same because for most of that time we haven’t been able to have visitors. Now I describe myself as a floater! I spend a lot of time with residents now, chatting, playing scrabble, assisting with window visits, doing the tea runs. I’m an extra pair of hands to take the pressure off the carers, really. I think I’ve got the best job in the company!
What was last Christmas like at Baycroft Flitwick?
Christmas last year was brilliant. We had a big show given by outside performers, all the staff brought their kids in and all the residents had family members here. We had Father Christmas visit, of course, and there was a snow machine. It was really special. We arranged visits to Flitwick Manor hotel for afternoon tea and for dinner – that was staff, residents and their families too. Really lovely.
What has it been like getting ready for Christmas 2020?
This year it’ll be very different, of course. The residents are certainly going to miss the kids; they love having them visit and the feeling is mutual. My seven-year-old, Alfie, used to visit often before lockdown. In August he took part in a charity challenge – bouncing on a trampoline for 24 hours throughout the month to fundraise for Dementia UK. A local sign company, Liquid Designs Bedfordshire, even gifted him a free sign saying “Alfie’s Bounce Dementia UK” and he raised £277! We’re also sad that we can’t have families visit residents for Christmas dinner and we haven’t been able to celebrate on the same scale. But we’ve still arranged activities! We just had a singer come to entertain us – outside of course, so a bit chilly, but everyone enjoyed it. We’ve been doing a lot of crafts with residents, like wreath-making and making Christmas cards. We’ve also been having a weekly choir battle! Each care home has a choir – we have seven residents in ours – and the live singing over Zoom has been brilliant. I’m not sure how they decide who’s best officially, but our residents here certainly seem to think they win each time… Some of our residents are bed-bound, so we have been able to use technology so they can watch the singing, take part in bingo games and so on.
As well as all that, I’ve been helping with all the usual – well, usual since lockdown – Zoom and Skype chats for residents and their families. For about two weeks now we have been able to have visitors come indoors, at last! Of course, there are screens from floor to ceiling and all the coronavirus precautions and protections, but it makes such a difference for everyone. With the cold and the rain, visits were often really short; now things feel a little more normal again. Whatever normal is!
And Christmas Day itself?
I’ve just finished typing up the special menus for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day this morning! Lots of delicious options for every course. We’ll get dressed up and party with the residents. And on Christmas Day itself we’ll be arranging Zoom calls with families for every resident in the morning, followed by lunch, and then it’ll be time to open all the presents under the tree. We’ve already got piles of presents dropped off by families!
It won’t be quite the same without staff’s kids and residents’ families joining us, but we’ll make sure it’s still special. And I’m sure there will be lots of indoor visits to arrange soon after!