Christmas at Walmer Care Centre

Posted on 20th December 2019

Today’s Blog in our Christmas series is from our Award Winning of Walmer Care Centre in Deal, Kent.

Walmer Care Centre specialises in Dementia care and Jill’s blog focusses very much on how they use different sensory activities such as music, baking and crafts to help orientate the home’s residents to the time of year.


This time of year is always full of mixed emotions for everyone. Every smell, song, sound and scene means something to someone and, as we know in dementia care, emotions remain strong for all. When we are preparing for Christmas, we need to take into consideration everyone’s different religions, their values and beliefs, their likes and dislikes, and their favourite traditions. We also need to make sure we include everyone that wants to be included, as well as their families.


At Walmer Care Centre, our Christmas starts in July as we begin our Christmas crafts on ‘Christmas in July Day’, and continue with this through the coming months. Then in November, we get decorating! We have two houses to decorate, and a total of 15/16 trees around the home, so our team starts this activity in late November. The top floor of our care home becomes a little grotto, and everyone gets involved. It is always a family event, preparing the home for Christmas. We see all the trees being made up, branch by branch, while all the residents help with colour sorting of baubles, untangling and testing lights, flattening tree branches out, decorating the trees whilst listening to carols, decorating stockings, card making, wreath making and flower arranging.

At our home, we try and make the month as busy as possible, to keep orientation to the season and to help comfort others who might find this time of year hard. We have one room which remains neutral with no decoration, so anyone who does not like Christmas or wants a break from all the busyness of the season can go there at any time.

We love making a Christmas pudding and cake together – measuring out ingredients with the cook, and everyone having a turn to add the ingredients, line the tins and stir. These are made at the beginning of December and we decorate them ready for Christmas Day – they are decorated however the family feels they want to decorate them. We always say our cakes are made of love and memories as we reminisce whilst baking. Some of the stories are so wonderful – and some so sad. We hear them all. The smells from the baking of the cake help others who are at the later stages of dementia participate too, as the sensory experience of touch and smell helps them to still be a part of the activity.


School choirs are welcome to the home, especially in December, and they sing their songs so beautifully, getting everyone involved. We then give food and drink to the children, giving the residents and school children a chance to chat about their favourite Christmas music. Musical entertainers also come regularly and do their Christmas set, which is always such a beautiful variety of music, and the local Christmas music bus from a church also visits our home.

The local church does a Christmas service which focuses on the true meaning of Christmas, which we always go to, and our Young at Hearts nursery group do a group together at the local theatre. We also always decorate a tree to add to the tree festival at the local church, and then we all take a trip out to see it.

Getting out in the community is really important because it adds to the sense of shared experience and a lovely Christmas spirit. We often visit a few Christmas markets and always make sure to be at any Christmas light switch on events. We take everyone Christmas shopping as much as we can, and attend as many of the carol services and Christingle services at our local church too.

We recently created something called ‘Elf Day’ which has become a very personal tradition to us all. We spend it fundraising for Alzheimer’s, and it is also an information and support day to help others. Then on Christmas Eve we have carols by candlelight for the families, and we usually invite the local mayor to join us.

Our Christmas parties include staff dressing up as Santa to give out gifts, party games, crackers, lots of food and relatives come in to join us. Our home accommodates families through December to come and have dinner with their relatives, if they cannot make it over Christmas. We also welcome families to come for dinner on Christmas Day and join in our festivities

Christmas is a time to come together, but remember that it is not just a season of rejoicing, but also reflection – this helps us with our New Year preparation. It also helps us remember the ones who have not made it to Christmas this year, and many previous years before. This is a family and team effort, and we share our own memories on our remembrance Christmas tree – we add their picture every year or a special bauble and decoration from the family. This gives us a chance to stay in touch with the family and reminisce together.

As the manager, I work on Christmas Day, and I make this a family affair, as my husband and children join me. We go to each family member and offer croissants and Bucks Fizz and my children give them their presents and stockings from us, and we open them all together.”

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