1. so what do you think of when I say "care home"? do you think of a dull place full of dusty floral furniture and weird smells?
  2. do you think of a place for old people to be deposited when they become too frail and nonsensical for us to deal with?
  3. do you think of a place where discussion and creativity and vibrancy are the norm?
    probably not.
  4. yesterday I threw a cocktail party in an East London care home. it was 'flower power' themed- everyone wore leis and flower crowns, and the room was decorated with bouquets and floral bunting.
  5. 19 of the people there were over 80 and live with dementia. the other 14 people were young professionals who had stopped by after work for a drink and a chat.
  6. we drank sangria and made sure everyone had a glass of their favourite tipple (even if that means serving Betty* a Bailey's and coke...)
    *not her real name
  7. we like to make sure that the party is no different just because it's in a care home- alcohol is served, party poppers are popped, music is played, zimmer frames are put to the side so those who want to dance can get up and have a boogie.
  8. of course, it can be very difficult to just sit down and have a chat with a dementia sufferer, as their memory and speech have likely been eroded: imagine trying to start a conversation with a stranger who cannot talk.
  9. but communication isn't just verbal! this is why we have themes at the parties, as so much can be communicated by sight, smell, facial expressions, gestures, touch.. for example having flowers on the table is not just a talking point, but an opportunity for two people to enjoy the smell, the softness of the petals and the splashes of colour.
  10. also imagine how frustrating it must be for the care home residents- you've lived a long life of indendence, then suddenly you're moved somewhere where you're put in bed by 7pm and nothing ever happens in the evenings.
  11. and this is why the charity I work for, Magic Me, decided to launch Cocktails in Care Homes- an intergenerational project to combat boredom and loneliness and hopefully inject fun and sparkle into the lives of dementia sufferers in care homes
  12. each month we host 9 cocktail parties in care homes across London, reaching over 300 people with dementia
    and we have the most amazing support from over 400 young volunteers, who come along to have a drink and a chat with the care home residents
  13. I always come away from these parties feeling buoyant and full of sweet stories- such as one elderly gentleman stumbling upon the party, then disappearing off, only to return fully dressed in a tux! 😍
  14. such a sense of occasion provides a welcome break from the mundane drill of care home life, and even though most of the residents with dementia might soon forget they ever went to the party, we make sure that that one evening is the best, most special it could possibly be!
  15. Cocktails in Care Homes has taught me to live for the moment, to never underestimate the impact spending a little time with someone can have, and to treasure all people 🌟
  16. so if you're London-based and want to get involved, drop me a line!