Colten Care homes stage egg-celent Easter fun

The Easter Bunny hopped in, children came along to make bonnets and entertain with songs, and gardens hosted egg hunts for all to enjoy.
Easter activities at all our homes brought residents, families and visitors together for a happy season of fun and laughter.

Here at Abbotts Barton in Winchester, children from Harestock Primary School – regular weekly visitors since January this year – joined residents for an Easter crafting session.
Companionship Team Leader Kirsty Sawyer said: “It was lovely to see the conversations going across the generations as together they set about creating the perfect Easter bonnet.”
The Worthy Road home also held its annual Easter egg hunt with eleven children from the local community taking part.

Kirsty said: “They had a great time running around the garden in search of eggs and carrots and afterwards were invited to stay for a drink and cake.

“The children were delighted with their prizes including Mia who won a book, Ryan who won an easter egg and Summer who won a chocolate bunny.”

Loraine Martin, a resident of Abbotts Barton, said: “Welcoming our young visitors was such a nice way to celebrate Easter.”

At Fernhill in Longham near Bournemouth, there was an Easter parade complete with bonnets and bunnies along with songs performed by entertainer Paul Hammond.
“Everyone had a wonderful time,” said Ann Marie Knight, a Companion at the dedicated dementia care home. “This was a great party for Easter with residents, friends, family members and staff all up on the dance floor. It was an amazing atmosphere, everyone laughing, smiling and having fun.”
At Linden House they also got into the Easter spirit with a musical afternoon.

[caption id="attachment_6183" align="alignnone" width="1024"] The Robins Choir from Lymington Infants School perform Easter songs for residents.[/caption]

They hosted a visit by the 28-strong Robins Choir from Lymington Infants School who showed off their Easter bonnets and sand several Easter songs and hymns.

“All the residents agreed they’d had an enjoyable afternoon and are looking forward to the Robins’ next visit,” said Companionship Team Leader Chris Dimmick.

Ghostly greetings as our Winchester care homes stage Halloween treats for children

Residents and staff at our two Winchester care homes laid on games, craft sessions and ghostly garden trails as spooky treats for visiting children.
The bone-chilling fun at Abbotts Barton and St Catherines View featured costumes and decorations guaranteed to give everyone goosebumps.

Eight young visitors, all children of team members at Abbotts Barton, had to navigate an array of hanging spiders, cobwebs and skulls as they made their way round the home’s garden.

Kirsty Sawyer, Companionship Team Leader, said: “Our residents and colleagues decorated the garden in advance and put in as much hocus pocus as possible.

[caption id="attachment_4309" align="alignnone" width="768"] Jillian Cambrook and the Halloween spider[/caption]

“We invited the children to dress up and join us on a hunt around the garden for witches’ hats with letters on that spelt out a spooky word to win a goody bag of treats.

“The children then enjoyed a hot chocolate and toffee apples with our residents.”

For grandmother and resident Jillian Cambrook, the chance to welcome the children was especially pleasing.

She moved to Abbotts Barton during the Covid pandemic at a time when visiting arrangements were restricted.

Jillian said: “We really got into the spirit of Halloween and I loved watching the children running around the garden and enjoying themselves.
“It’s something I hadn’t seen in the garden before. I would love the opportunity to welcome them again in the future.”
At St Catherines View, residents welcomed a Halloween visit from nearby Tops Day Nursery and Pre-school.

The fun included a craft session in which residents and visitors designed and decorated Halloween masks.

There was also the chance to take part in games and have a run-around in the garden.

The children were each given flowers picked from the garden which they loved smelling and showing to the residents.
Evie Airs, Companionship Team member, said: “It was amazing to see how meeting the children lifted our residents’ moods and made them so happy and excited. Halloween provides a great form of reminiscence.”
Resident Maggie Green said: “It was wonderful to see the children. They’re just little rays of sunshine.”

Our Winchester care homes’ day of fun boosts wildlife rescue charity

Our two Winchester care homes joined forces for a family-friendly fete in aid of a charity that rescues sick and injured animals and birds.
Dozens of visitors were welcomed by residents and staff from Abbotts Barton and St Catherines View with the fun get-together raising more than £1,600, an amount described as an “incredible effort” by beneficiary Hart Wildlife Rescue.

The fete, held on the green in Dyson Drive off Worthy Road, just yards from Abbotts Barton, featured children’s games, stalls selling cakes, plants and handmade gift items, a coconut shy, a barbecue, a tombola and the chance to see inside a fire engine.
Abbotts Barton resident Rosemary Smale, who welcomed visitors to her stall selling handmade glassware, said: “The fete was a great success and it was busy for the whole duration. We had a fine day so we were lucky as we had thought the weather might not hold up.”

When told the fete had raised £1,641.84, Paul Michael Reynolds, Hart Wildlife Hospital Manager said: “That is an incredible effort, very well done and thank you so much for raising the money.”

With its hospital located in Medstead near Alton, Hart Wildlife Rescue provides rescue, treatment and rehabilitation for wildlife from all over Hampshire and neighbouring counties. The charity currently deals with more than 3,000 casualties every year, a figure that is increasingly annually.

Colten Care’s two Winchester care homes also staged a fete on the Dyson Drive green last year, raising around £1,000 for MHA Communities Winchester, a charity that helps older people in the community to live well.
Abbotts Barton Home Manager Dee Lovewell said: “Our residents and team needed no encouragement to stage another fete this year. We all loved taking part and supporting Hart Wildlife.”
Vanda Baker, Dee’s opposite number at St Catherines View, said: “It was lovely to organise another successful fundraising event, surpassing our total from last year and having great fun at the same time.”

Residents say Hola to Mexican-style fiesta

Party goers donned sombreros and ponchos to enjoy a fun-filled fiesta in honour of Mexican culture and history.
The colourful get-together was inspired by the annual Cinco de Mayo national day, a massive cultural celebration.

Residents and team members marked the Mexican theme by dancing to traditional mariachi music, sampling nachos and churros, and sipping margarita cocktails and Mexican beer.

Barbara Landon-Mudge said: “We had a lot of fun at this event and thank our companions for putting in so much work to please everyone.”

[caption id="attachment_4315" align="alignnone" width="768"] Churros in hand, residents Lucy Imrie-Brown, left, and Pam Richards enjoy the Mexican-themed fiesta[/caption]

Kirsty Sawyer, Companionship Team Leader, said: “It was a joy to bring Mexico to our home.

“Of all the food on offer, residents particularly enjoyed the chocolate stuffed churros.

“There is definite interest in giving these a regular appearance on our home’s daily meal menu.”

[caption id="attachment_4316" align="alignnone" width="768"] Resident Barbara Landon-Mudge said she had a lot of fun at the Mexican themed-party.[/caption]

Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for the 5th of May, commemorates the victorious Battle of Puebla in 1862 when the Mexican army under President Benito Juarez stopped French troops seizing Mexico City.

In Mexico, the annual commemoration features street parades, fireworks and battle re-enactments across the country.

Sweet sounds reunite ex-bellringer Joyce with her village church

Joyce returned to the Hampshire church where she used to ring bells, enjoying a special keyboard performance along the way courtesy of one of her care companions.
Talented musician Anna Boddy ‘pulled out all the stops’ on the organ at St Mary’s Church in Micheldever to play for the visiting party including delighted Joyce Croft.

The group travelled on a minibus trip to enjoy the church and have a picnic.

Anna, a pianist, music teacher and university lecturer, gained permission in advance to play the organ when they arrived.

[caption id="attachment_4324" align="alignnone" width="768"] Joyce Croft and Barbara Langdon-Mudge listening to Anna Boddy play the organ.[/caption]

She even donned a wig to get into the character of Johann Sebastian Bach, playing a selection of the German baroque composer’s work and completing the performance with pieces by Beethoven and Elgar.

Joyce, who is from Micheldever and used to ring the St Mary’s bells with her husband, sat with fellow residents admiring the church and listening to Anna play while they all had a cup of tea.

Joyce said: “It was such a wonderful experience and I would love to do it all over again. We all loved the picnic afterwards too.”

Kirsty Sawyer, Companionship Team Leader at Abbotts Barton, said: “Hats off to Anna for organising a really special treat for Joyce and the other residents on the trip.
“It’s not every day you get to hear such amazing music performed just for you on a magnificent church organ.”
The original church of St Mary’s was referenced in historical records as far back as 903 AD.

The oldest parts of the present Grade II Listed building date from around 1380 with the church tower added in 1544. It houses six bells, two of which were cast in 1703. The heavy tenor bell weighs eight hundredweight.

The 150-seat church underwent considerable redesign during the 19th century including the installation of what is considered England’s only rural rotunda.

The organ on which Anna entertained the Abbotts Barton party was installed having previously been in a chapel at Southampton University.

The church website describes the organ as a ‘great asset’, adding: “Combined with good acoustics, the church provides an excellent environment for musical events and dramatic performances.”

Residents ‘turn sleuth to solve a murder’

Residents used all their powers of deduction to unmask a killer who struck during a stormy night.
Abbotts Barton hosted a murder mystery evening which saw a family reunion become the scene of the shocking homicide.

Colten Companion, Sarah Kingston, explained: “Our residents learned they were part of Malachai Stout’s somewhat dysfunctional family who had begrudgingly gathered in the ancestral home for a family reunion.

“When a storm rages during the night, knocking down power and telephone lines, the main road to the nearest village is blocked by a mud slide making it near impossible for anyone to leave.

“Then, at first light it is noticed that the door of Malachai’s bedroom is open and his crumpled lifeless body is on the bed. Since it isn’t possible to call the police or for any assistance the ‘family’ decides to get to the bottom of the mystery.”

Residents were given either a character to play or acted as investigators as the clues were revealed.

They had a profile of their character for background and were encouraged to adlib whenever they wanted to, with often hilarious results.

Companion, Immy Fletcher, said: “We had scripts and props and the residents really threw themselves into it.
“Penelope, Malachai’s daughter was played by Frances Burns, whose dramatic licence had the room in hysterics as she handed out boxes of tissues to soak up ‘tears of grief’.
“Penelope’s rather put-upon husband Harrison (played by George Smith) had resorted to drink to drown out the suffering of his marriage – and constantly reminded his fellow residents of the fact during the evening.

“While our very own Barbara Langdon-Mudge played the granddaughter Sabrina and gave the part the gusto and energy expected from a young social media influencer!”

At the end of the evening everyone was asked in turn to decide who had committed the heinous crime.

The consensus was that the butler had done it. But, Winifred Stout, Malachai’s wife played by Mary Short, confessed all.
Mary said: “It was a brilliant evening. Frances was undoubtedly the star of the show!”
Frances, who enjoyed murder mystery evenings with her own family before joining Abbotts Barton, said: “I can’t believe someone killed my father. I was sure the butler had something to do with it.”

While George joked: “I’m not sure I’m going to sleep tonight. There could be another murder.”
Companion Sarah concluded: “It was a brilliant evening. We laughed so much and it was a pleasure to hear so many residents talking about how much they had enjoyed it.”

Our Winchester care homes raise £3,000 for older people’s community charity

Our homes have together raised more than £3,000 for a charity that helps older people in the community to live well.
Colten Care homes Abbotts Barton and St Catherines View staged a series of fundraising events for MHA Communities Winchester after both choosing it as their charity of the year.

The biggest single moneyspinner was a late summer fete held on a green off Worthy Road, just yards from Abbotts Barton.

The event, attended by the Mayor of Winchester Vivian Achwal and featuring live music, children’s games and a sale of plants arranged by residents of both homes, raised more than £1,200 for the campaign last September.

Another successful initiative was a fun ploy involving the ‘arrest and detention’ of a nurse at Abbotts Barton, Joby Varghese Thekken Vazhakala.

He was ‘taken into custody’ by resident and ex-policeman John Arbor and ‘formally charged’ with ‘serious offences’ such as ‘smiling too much’ and ‘not having any grey hair at his age’.

As news spread, residents, colleagues and community contacts were invited to pledge contributions to a ‘bail fund’ enabling Joby to be released after a couple of hours of wearing a prison uniform, peeling potatoes for the Abbotts Barton kitchen and shredding paper for the home’s administration team. More than £450 was raised with Joby joking on his release: “It was all for a good cause but I never want to peel another potato again!”

Staff from both homes also dressed up and took part in a cross-town Santa vs Elves race at Christmas 2021. The aim was to see who could reach each other’s home first.

The St Catherines View team ran from their starting point in Stanmore Lane with the Abbotts Barton competitors coming in the opposite direction from Worthy Road.
Speaking at a cheque presentation to round off the homes’ campaign, Abbotts Barton resident Mavis Borlase said: “I’m thrilled about the amount raised and I hope the charity can make great use of the money.”
In response, Carly Ratcliffe, Administrator at MHA Communities Winchester, said: “We are very grateful to both Colten Care Abbotts Barton and St Catherines View for their fundraising efforts this last year. This money will go a long way to supporting older people living independently across the Winchester district and enable us to continue to offer a variety of exciting and fulfilling social activities in their local communities.”

Our Winchester residents celebrate after top review ratings

Our two Winchester care homes are celebrating excellent scores on a public review website.
Abbotts Barton and St Catherines View are both rated highly on after latest independent reviews.

The achievement was celebrated in style with an autumn-themed afternoon party in the main lounge at Abbotts Barton attended by 32 residents.

Amid seasonal decorations such as scarecrows, sunflowers and autumn leaves, resident Russell McNeill said: “We are proud of our home and want to let people know about it.”

Scores for thousands of homes across the UK are shown on based on ongoing feedback posted by residents and relatives.

An average rating from individual posts is coupled with the volume of reviews posted in the past two years to arrive at each score.

Abbotts Barton has had 15 highly positive reviews in the period and 91 in all, while St Catherines View has had 16 in two years and 65 overall.

The homes’ respective scores are 9.8 out of ten for Abbotts Barton and 9.7 for St Catherines View.

Virtually all reviewers say they are ‘likely’ or ‘extremely likely’ to recommend the relevant home to others.

The scores contribute to an overall 9.9-out-of-ten group rating for owner and operator Colten Care, making it one of the UK’s top 20 large care home groups.

There are currently more than 1,450 reviews on across Colten Care’s family of 21 homes, all of which are registered for nursing care.

In one of the most recent reviews of Abbotts Barton, the son of a resident wrote: “A first-class facility, well maintained with caring, professional staff. My mother is settled and comfortable. I have peace of mind that she is being well looked after.”

And in a recent view of St Catherines View, a resident’s daughter wrote: “I would not want mum to be anywhere else. This is one of the best homes I’ve been in and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a place for their loved one to stay in. It’s a home from home.”

Colten Care’s Chief Executive Mark Aitchison said: “As the latest score shows, people speak highly about both Abbotts Barton and St Catherines View.

“We continually receive compliments and testimonials about the companionship we provide, the first-class, locally sourced fresh food on our daily menus and the exceptional, welcoming environment in which our residents rest and relax.

“We complement all these benefits with professional nursing and in our dedicated dementia care homes such as St Catherines View, Admiral Nurse-led support.

“You also have the added reassurance of consistent, Colten-wide quality care standards. It is because of all these factors that we have such a consistently high group score and seven of our homes are rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission.

“Based on such third-party advocacy, we are the UK’s highest-rated care home group for our size.”

Our Winchester homes’ summer fete raises £1,000 for older people in the community  

Our two Winchester care homes came together to stage a late summer fete in aid of a charity that helps older people in the community to live well.
Abbotts Barton and St Catherines View jointly raised £1,020.18 for MHA Communities Winchester.

The family-friendly event was held on the green in Dyson Drive off Worthy Road, just yards from Abbotts Barton, and featured live music, children’s games, hot food, cakes, tombola and a sale of plants arranged by residents of both homes.
Abbotts Barton resident Rosemary Smale said she was tempted to have a go on the coconut shy, adding: “We were very lucky with the weather as it was nice and sunny. I enjoyed having a look at the stalls. There was a good variety.”
Kirsty Sawyer, Companionship team leader at Abbotts Barton, said: “We had a fantastic day with a great turnout from our neighbours and other people in the community.”

Both homes chose MHA Communities Winchester as their main cause to support over the past year. Even before the festival, they had raised more than £1,800 for the charity despite community events being constrained by lockdown.

MHA Communities Winchester provides social events and activities for around 350 older people who live in their own homes and may be experiencing feelings of isolation or loneliness. Activities include exercise classes, lunch clubs, singing, drama, day trips and holidays.

Beth Ward, Deputy Manager, said: “We are very grateful for the continued support of Colten Care in Winchester. The last 18 months has been a difficult time for the charity and their fundraising efforts go a long way to supporting our 300+ local members.”
Abbotts Barton Home Manager Dee Lovewell said: “Getting involved in fundraising and events such as the fete enables our residents to continue to play a part in the wider community. They love it.”
Among the guests at the fete was the Mayor of Winchester, Councillor Vivian Achwal, who said: “It was a pleasure to be invited along to the joint family day for St Catherines View and Abbotts Barton care homes. It was wonderful to meet the staff, families and a few of the residents. There was a great turnout and the stalls were lovely, especially the craft stall featuring items handmade by residents from Abbotts Barton. There was some beautiful live music as well as delicious food. A wonderful community event.”