Chinese New Year was celebrated with traditions old and new by residents at a specialist dementia care home in Wellington, with Chinese lantern decorating, tea-tasting, a chopstick challenge and pan pipes.
Activities co-ordinator, Richard Dempslake, said: “We made Chinese New Year into a proper celebration for the people with dementia we support because the colour, sounds, tastes and opportunities for fun and creativity they can get out of it make it too good an opportunity to miss.
“We’re entering the Year of the Tiger, so in the lead-up to the day we worked with them to make tiger-striped Chinese lanterns, which they thoroughly enjoyed, ensuring we also took the activity to those residents who prefer to remain in their rooms so everyone would feel involved.
“The mood was set with relaxing Chinese-inspired panpipe music, Camelot House and Lodge was decorated throughout with our lanterns and other Chinese New Year decorations, and my colleagues Kathy Burge, James Wilson and I got into the spirit of the occasion with some themed costumes.
“Meanwhile chef Chris, who wanted to offer residents a tempting taste of the Orient, devised a special menu and some delicious dishes after chatting with people about what sort of food they’d like to try.
“This also inspired us to organise a ‘Taste the Tea’ quiz where residents had to guess the flavours of different teas through taste and smell – with flavours such as peppermint, strawberry and raspberry, blackberry and blueberry, lemon and ginger.
“One of the highlights of the day was definitely our ‘Chopstick Challenge’ – testing our residents’ skills in handling chopsticks – and let me tell you, I didn’t know how many different ways you can use chopsticks!
“Residents used them in every possible way, which we all found very amusing – the activity was a proper crowd-pleaser.
“The game had the added bonus of being a subtle therapy activity because it encourages participants to focus on their manipulative skills, which is something we build into our regular activities to help keep the hand muscles strong and protect against arthritis.
“To recover from all that excitement we then had a quieter audio visual session, using our pop-up cinema to show a digital firework display, which residents thoroughly enjoyed, and for snacks we handed out fortune cookies and prawn crackers.”