Staff at a north Oxford care home have been finding new and inventive ways to keep their elderly residents entertained.

From arts and crafts to afternoon tea, the conga and video chats, the elderly at the Fairfield residential home in Summertown have been as busy as normal in these far-from-normal times.

Due to the coronavirus lockdown and social distancing, the home is not able to let family and friends visit and many events at the home that involve visitors have been cancelled.

To help, staff are finding new and inventive ways to keep everybody entertained and keep their mood up.

Maddy Wheeler is one of the activities co-ordinators at Fairfield.

She said: “We have been doing our own quizzes and our own art because we usually have three external people coming in every day doing activities.

“So obviously, they now can’t come in and we have just had to pull on all our own resources.

“We have been doing arts and crafts, quizzes and we have been making a big thing of afternoon tea in the garden with Prosecco, which cheered them up.

"We’ve got quite a lot of staff who are brave enough to sing and dance for the residents, so we have had the staff doing old fashioned karaoke.”

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Michelle Williams is the director of care at the home and she has been working with the rest of the team to think outside the box.

She said: “We have done various things, we actually had a local chap come along who sent an email to us to say he plays the bagpipes and he would like to play the bagpipes in the grounds of the home, which would be his daily exercise and would also provide entertainment for the residents.

“He did that for a couple of weeks, but he unfortunately had to stop that because we can’t really let anybody come into the grounds as the residents might want to use it.”

Another activity the residential home has started since lockdown is doing an impromptu activity to music every day at 2pm.

Last week the home's oldest resident and retired teacher, 104-year-old Edna, started the conga around the home to lift everyone’s spirits.

Residents have also been using technology to stay in touch with friends and family as well as take part in activities via video chat.

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Now those living at the home have tablets which they can use in daily activities and for staying in touch.

Mrs Williams said: “We also have, because of Covid, bought some tablets for Skype so residents can be in touch with their family, but also for streaming of our activities. At the art class that happened yesterday, the art teacher was streaming to the tablet and to a large screen.”

She added: “It’s a home that does look to do things differently, we like to lead the way. A lot of this is now in place because of Covid but was in our thoughts.

“Before coronavirus we started talking about the residents having these tablets, so it’s really helped us think a bit more out the box.”

The residents have been enjoying live music via Zoom and have been attending church services remotely.

Staff at the home are assisting the residents with writing emails and letters to their family.

Mrs Williams said: “The group that we currently have living at Fairfield are very sociable, so when we explained to them that they needed to stop all contact with their family and friends and the entertainment was going to be purely in house there was a positive slump for them. But as we were getting more and more creative, they are supporting us and it has lifted them again.”

Fairfield is not just a residential home; it is also a charity that cares about the elderly in the community. Due to the lockdown many elderly residents in Oxford are unable to leave their home and are relying on external help.

Mrs Williams said: “We are about supporting the people in the local community; we are aware that some people who need support in their daily life are struggling with that. We are not averse to letting people come and stay with us for the period of Covid, following the correct isolation procedures.”