Visiting a care home isn’t on everyone’s to-do list, but for Patricia Spencer it’s an activity she regularly conducts and encourages other people who have a couple of hours to spare to do the same.
Patricia regularly visits residents at the Cedars and Larches Care Home in Ilkeston. She was initially invited to come in and read poetry for the residents, but after discovering some friends and old acquaintances lived there, Patricia became a regular visitor.
She explains: “Back on 18th December 2016, the home invited me in to share some of my poetry with residents. You should always be aware if you entertain in a nursing home you will be heckled, but in a good way. The residents will chip in with stories of their own, which they probably haven’t thought about for years and are always interesting to listen to. The first experience I had at the home was a lovely one, and I hope that the residents got as much out of the experience as I did.
“When I visited in December the home was all decked out with its Christmas decorations, and had a warm and cosy atmosphere. One of the ladies in the home, Violet, wanted me to recite something to do with Christmas. She was a well-known Soprano in Ilkeston in her younger days and she started a resounding chorus of ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ to which we all joined in and I enjoyed immensely.
“I also found a face I knew from my past. Eva. I remember going on a school trip to Dudley Zoo in 1957 or 58 when I was about ten years old. My mum couldn’t go as she was working so they asked Eva if she would take me along with her own daughter Jenny. We had a lovely day and I remember a very scary ride on the chairlift there. I also remember how smart Eva looked that day, so much so that I have never forgotten it. So I had a nice chat with her about this trip.
“Whilst sharing other stories with residents, we realised that we had a number of friends in common. Other topics of conversation have included ghosts and spiritual happenings.
“In another visit, I joined the residents as they watched the local entertainer Johnny Victory. He had everyone in the home up on their feet dancing and singing along. Everyone absolutely loved him. I spoke to Johnny before he left. He loves singing for the residents and shook many of their hands before leaving. He told me that if he can help them go back in time to their own era, they can remember the music and sings they used to sing in their day and fleetingly they are back to being the youngster they once were.
“I would encourage people to pop in and visit the residents in their local care or nursing home every now and then. I’m sure they would be glad they did. I do hope the residents enjoy my visits as much as I enjoy their company.”
Date published: 15 September 2017