Christmas smiles for dementia patients

Christmas smiles for dementia patients

Some of our kind volunteers made a special Christmas visit to Highcliffe Nursing Home where they shared photos and videos and told the residents all about the cafe cats.

Pause Cat Cafe is all about kindness -and it’s not just kindness to our kitty cats that’s important to us, we love helping our community too!  The home’s Activity Coordinator Alison Antoniou sent us an email with her great idea to get the golden oldies reminiscing about their furry companions.  Alison said, “I have to really think outside of the box to make their days happy days but one thing our residents have in common is a love for animals, so I thought this would be purrfect!” Our cafe aims to promote animal welfare, volunteering and community projects so we jumped at the chance to make this visit.

Alison first found out about Pause when bringing an elderly lady to our free Christmas Party last year to help reduce isolation for older people in the local area. The lady who attended loved the party but sadly passed away this year. She thought this would be a great way to share the experience with the people at the home.

Highcliffe Nursing Home provides care to residents with high-end dementia, learning difficulties and at the end of their lives. They have a genuine passion for senior care and pride themselves on making a real difference to the lives of their residents.  The purpose of the festive visit was to stimulate and engage the seniors, who are not able to make it out to see the cafe for themselves. We didn’t think it was fair to let them miss out on the cuteness of Pause, so we upped sticks and off we went to Highcliffe armed with the cutest photos and videos of Bournemouth’s top cats.

Christmas is known as a time to spend with family and friends, but unfortunately, not everyone has somewhere to go or people to spend time with. Our aim is to improve health and wellbeing in the local community, and we recognise that many elderly people can be lonely around Christmas. In fact, Age UK (2014) says “there are 2.5 million older people who are not looking forward to Christmas, and nearly 650,000 saying it’s because the festive season brings back too many memories of those who have passed away.”

Despite having various abilities and needs, almost all of the home’s residents took part and engaged well with our cat care volunteers. Looking at the photos and videos enabled them a glimpse into the lives of our gorgeous rescue kitties and also triggered memories that helped them to share stories of their own pets, bringing lots of smiles all around.

“What a complete pleasure it was to have Pause Cat Cafe visit us yesterday. The volunteers showed such kindness to our residents who were able to engage and stimulate extremely well.”

Alison Antoniou, Activities Coordinator, Highcliffe Nursing Home

It wasn’t just the seniors who got something from the trip, though!  The volunteers really enjoyed chatting with the home’s residents about the café, and it was a lovely way to build some intergenerational bonds between the older people and our school and university-aged volunteers who are much more used to taking care of the cafe cats than other human beings!

Our manager Chloe said:

“The volunteers were shy at first but soon relaxed into it and found the experience very rewarding. It was lovely to see how just a little chat really lifted the patients’ moods.”

Don’t furrget! Here at Pause we also run a free monthly social in the cafe on the first Friday of the month, to help address the isolation felt by some older people in the area. Having cats around provides the purrfect environment for meeting new people, provides an ice-breaker and a focus to take the purressure and shyness away. Attendees have created strong friendships with each other and the cafe cats. Purrdictably, the event is named after ‘Aunty Anne’, our very own grumpy old lady!

Do you know an OAP who loves cats and might like to make some new furriends, or would you like to help out? To find out more or support the event, please get in touch here. If you’re feline in the Christmas spirit you can even donate to enable us to bring one older person to the next tea party, just £10 pays for their entry, a drink and the transport to and from the event.

About the Au-fur of this artickle

Hi, I’m Aunty Anne,

I’m often refurred to as Pause’s grumpy old lady, but I’m just a bit feisty rather than truly cantankerous. I give the best cuddles and will sit on a lap furr hours, but only on my terms. I’m interested in social issues in the community and I run a monthly social club for older people. My stories tend to be about companionship, connection and bonding. I love a good cuddle and will lick your hand for ages if I decide you’re my pal.

Find me on Instagram @auntyannepause

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