Nursing Times Award Winner

Royal Shakespeare Company members bring festive cheer to three Residential Homes

Massive thanks is owed to three members of the Royal Shakespeare Company , Nia, Annie and Margot, who delighted the residents of three Stratford Care homes with their festive performance of words and music. Everyone loved it.

Watching the residents at the different Homes respond to the familiar words and songs was very moving. Although they are all living in a busy, vibrant, town, many never go out and often feel completely isolated from the rest of the world. They would have been so touched that the team took time out of their busy lives to come and make a difference to theirs. Simply feeling our cold hands when we arrived was enough to make some of them remember that is was winter outside. I watched how several of the ladies and gentlemen shook our hands and then looked out at the garden, as if making some connection with the world beyond their four walls.

Most of the residents listened with full attention, to the performance, even though some of them had quite severe dementia. Everyone enjoyed the gentle pace and the seamless way the music and the words flowed together. The sequence was so easy to follow, and so festive. It was a delight to see how many confused patients tapped their feet, clapped their hands or sung along to familiar words.

Chatting to everyone afterwards, and taking a special interest in them all, also meant so much to the various groups. So many of those wonderful people have amazing stories to tell. They were thrilled that the company members gave them the chance, and the time, to remind us of their individual skills and achievements.

I loved every minute of it. At each of the three performances, I noticed something different. I also loved watching how everyone responded in their own way.

I also saw how much the staff enjoyed it too. Caring for people with such complex, and often very demanding, needs, is hard work and something that most people would not want to do. Taking a few moments to sit down with a resident to help them get the most out of the event, is an important part of caring for older people but, sadly, something the staff don't get to do often enough. They all loved it.

And, of course, a massive thanks from me. It was a huge privilege for me to be able to spend the whole day with such a prestigious group. Their enthusiasm, energy and passion for their work shone through every part of their performance. I was also very moved by their concern for everyone and their amazing ability to engage so well with every resident they met.

Finally, I realise that these events take time to plan. So, I am also immensely grateful to Royal Shakespeare Company Head of Voice and Text, Lyn Darnley and Voice and Text Development Manager, Jane Hazel, for the work they put into organising the day, especially at such a busy time of year.

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