Cocktails in Care Homes - Connect, Give

“I have dinner at six o'clock, and then it's bed time: there is no evening activity.”

This is how the project manager at Magic Me started to develop the idea of cocktail parties in care homes after chatting to one resident of a local care home. The scheme offers care home residents new opportunities to socialise and keep in touch with the wider community outside their home. Now Magic Me and a small group of volunteers host monthly cocktail parties across four care homes in Tower Hamlets, London.

The project, Cocktails in Care Homes, has a significant impact on the wellbeing of both the care home participants and the volunteers who take part. These parties are all about the conversation and connecting people across different ages and topics. The aim is to simply allow people to unwind at the end of the day and enjoy some good company.

Cocktails in Care Homes run for 60 to 90 minutes, from 6pm, once a month, for residents of a home, any relatives or friends who wish to join in and care staff. Young adult volunteers, mostly in their 20s and 30s living or working locally, host the party joining residents to socialise over a drink. Mood lighting, decorations, music and a range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are provided by Magic Me to set a party mood and encourage conversation. Residents were canvassed about their favourite music and drinks, and the parties cater for very wide-ranging tastes.

The partnerships that are key to the success of this project are with the local care home managers, the volunteers and, of course, the residents. A further important learning point is to ‘keep it simple'.

Magic Me would like to see Cocktails in Care Homes set up all over the country, with organisations establishing these independently.

Unabridged version: Magic Me

26 September 2011

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