Crafty care home ladies knit tiny blankets for kittens and cats in need

Nimble-fingered ladies at our Dorset care home have knitted tiny woollen blankets to make life more comfortable for kittens and older cats waiting to be rehomed.
A party from Amberwood House in Ferndown visited the town’s Cats Protection rehoming centre to deliver their colourful handiwork.

They brought along 30 gift-wrapped blankets each made from individual squares of wool carefully knitted and stitched together and sized to fit a cat’s travel basket.

Blankets measuring 60cm by 40cm were aimed at kittens while those earmarked for older cats extended to 90cm by 60cm.

Amberwood House resident Mary Whitehouse has been a cat lover since she was a girl when her postman dad used to bring unwanted moggies back to their home.

Her daughters Christine Whitehouse and Elizabeth Doyle helped the blanket-making campaign by stitching together many of the squares Mary and other residents knitted.
After her minibus trip to present the blankets to Cats Protection, Mary said: “It was so wonderful to see how much help they are giving to the cats in their care who are looking for a new home.”
Fellow knitter Betsy Fisher said: “I felt proud to take the knitted blankets over to the cats. I have really enjoyed being part of this project. It’s all for such a great cause. I understand that we weren’t allowed to touch the cats but they were so cute I do just wish I could have cuddled them!”

Companionship Team member Justine Thorpe, who accompanied the residents on their crosstown trip, said: “Many of our ladies love knitting and when we asked around local charities to see if the blankets we were making would be any use, Cats Protection got back and jumped at the chance. For each cat they rehome they like to do so with a blanket.”

Colleague and Companionship Team leader Kirsty Richmond Cole said: “Back in lockdown we knitted a huge amount of squares which we stored in the home’s loft.

“We got them out last year and decided to do something with them. As well as the blankets for Cats Protection, we made woollen bunnies, fingerless gloves and hats out of the squares.

“We sold some of these items at our Christmas market last year in aid of Ferndown Rotary, raising more than £200.

“It has been a really lovely initiative involving residents, their families and team members.”

Cats Protection says there are many reasons why a cat or kitten may need to be rehomed including their owners moving house or experiencing a relationship breakdown.

Rehoming centres also take in lost and found cats who are reunited with their owners wherever possible. Cats can arrive at the centre after they have been abandoned, often sick or injured with the team nursing them back to health so that they can be found new loving homes.
Tanya Burnett, Deputy Manager at Ferndown Rehoming Centre, said: “We are so grateful for the blankets that the ladies from Amberwood House knitted with such care and attention to detail.

“We were also pleased to be able to offer them a tour of the homing centre and although we aren’t able to offer one-to-one time with the cats during tours, we are glad the residents enjoyed being able to see each of the cats in their individual pens, hear their stories and details of the work we do for cats, both at the centre and in the wider community, as we work to help people see the world through cats’ eyes.”
For more information on Cats Protection and to donate or volunteer for the organisation, visit

War of words as residents from four of our care homes dabble in Scrabble

Dedicated Scrabble fans from four of our care homes were quick to mind their Ps and Qs as they enjoyed a friendly battle of words in multiple encounters.
Players at our care homes in Dorset and Hampshire pitted their wits against each other to search for the ultimate word score using giant Scrabble boards.

While Woodpeckers in Brockenhurst welcomed friends from Kingfishers in New Milton, there was similar gentle rivalry as Amberwood House in Ferndown took on visitors from Bourne View in Poole.

The inter-home fun, timed to celebrate National Scrabble Day, lasted several hours and featured a sweepstake so non-players could feel involved by guessing the number of words the teams achieved in each game.

At Amberwood House, staff reflected the theme of word play by dressing up as something beginning with the first letter of their name.

Companionship Team Leader Kirsty Richmond-Cole was a Kite, Clinical Lead Hanna Rehbein was a Hot Dog, Home Manager Diane Nicholls was a Dragon, Nurse Anika McQuirk was Alice in Wonderland, and Maintenance Manager Christian Blanch was Clark Kent, unveiling a Superman top from under his shirt.
Kirsty said: “We decided to dress up so residents could have a good laugh and join in with the celebrations even if they had decided not to play. We did have some strange looks and one or two belly laughs. Resident Don Cussen asked us if we had lost our marbles!”
The Bourne View team – Harold Faircloth, Wendy Barnes and Peter Prior – arrived at Amberwood House just before lunch, taking a stroll around the garden and enjoying fish and chips before sitting down for the competition.

In the end, Amberwood House put up three teams itself, with residents Marjorie Hutchings, Rita Bryant and Noreen Hewitt having a closely fought match with Harold, Wendy and Peter.
Kirsty said: “There were some clever moves and a few challenges on words and Marjorie, Rita and Noreen jumped into the lead. But Harold, Wendy and Peter refused to give in and made a word score of 41 which enabled them to go in front. As it went on and with a final push from Marjorie, Rita, and Noreen, Amberwood House cheered with joy as they cleared their rack with a fantastic move and won the game.”
Marjorie said: “It was great to welcome our visitors. Hopefully, it’s the start of more get-togethers. We all love Scrabble, it’s a definite favourite.”

At Woodpeckers, there were also multiple matches with some ties open to family and friends as well as residents.

The most successful residents’ team was Jo Bray, Pam Welch and Molly Wolstenholme.

Companionship Team member Sian Harris said: “Over an hour and a half of playing and 75 words later, Jo’s team were the clear winners with 307 points against 239. Jo also won a prize for the longest word. This prompted a lot of laughter as her word was ‘headstones’.  One resident said, “you have to laugh at these things, even if it’s dark humour!”

There was also National Scrabble Day fun with games between residents living at Avon Cliff home in Bournemouth.

National Scrabble Day is celebrated annually in honour of the game’s creator, an American architect called Alfred Mosher Butts who was born in April 1899 and came up with his invention in 1938.

In the pink as Colten Care residents do their bit to help end breast cancer

Residents and team members at Colten Care have united in a colourful display of solidarity to raise awareness of breast cancer and help fund research into the disease.
Our sister homes in Dorset and the New Forest staged a host of activities and events for the Wear It Pink campaign run nationally each year by charity Breast Cancer Now.

Residents at Court Lodge in Lymington, Kingfishers in New Milton and Amberwood House in Ferndown were among those dressing up in pink and having fun with hands-on fundraising games and get-togethers.

At Court Lodge, Home Manager Rebecca Hannam and Healthcare Assistant Eddie Brion bravely volunteered to stand outside ‘in the stocks’ and have wet sponges thrown at them.

One resident, Jack Harris, felt so sorry for them he insisted on being a target himself.

“Actually I very much enjoyed it,” said Jack. “It’s for a good cause and it was only fair to join in.”
Companionship Team Leader Julia Puia said: “It was a very fun and wet afternoon. We had a great time with lots of laughter. Everyone paid a pound a time to pick up and throw a soggy sponge. Residents enjoyed the activity and seeing Jack volunteer to take part was the best thing.”
Pink-themed goings on at Kingfishers in New Milton included an afternoon party, raffle and information session complemented by a foot-tapping country music singalong led by visiting entertainer Retro Rita.

Resident Jack Phillips said: “I enjoyed the music so much, it really made me want to dance.”
As well as holding a day of games and quizzes, residents at Amberwood House in Ferndown supported Wear it Pink by knitting pink ribbons to sell to friends and family.

Hundreds of pounds have been raised across the homes. Donations are still being collected ahead of a total amount being confirmed.

Breast Cancer Now funds life-changing support for cancer sufferers and research into new ways to help prevent, detect and treat the disease.

The charity has an ambition that by 2050 everyone diagnosed with breast cancer will live, and be supported to live well.

Wear it Pink has been the flagship annual fundraising campaign for Breast Cancer Now for more than 20 years.

For more information, visit

Golden shot for Colten Care residents raising a cuppa for Macmillan

Colten Care homes have hosted a series of Macmillan Coffee Mornings with an added Willy Wonka-style twist.
Residents, staff and visitors raising a mug at the annual charity get togethers were served freshly prepared homemade cakes and pastries in the traditional way.

But at each of Colten Care’s 21 homes, chefs baked one of the tasty treats as a ‘Golden Cup Cake’, containing a hidden layer of edible gold leaf through the middle only to be revealed when the cake was bitten into.

The lucky recipient won a bottle of bubbly, chocolates and a donation to Macmillan on their behalf.
“I couldn’t quite believe it was the golden one,” said a smiling Pamela Kately, the winner at Canford Chase in Poole.
More than 100 cup cakes were baked by Chef Izzy Turczyn-Kuzma at The Aldbury in Poole, with housekeeping colleague Michael Sheppard receiving the golden prize.

And at Brook View in West Moors, the cup cake winner was visitor Hannah Kirby who had only just arrived to visit her grandfather Harry.

Moments after making her coffee morning donation along with partner Leigh, Hannah bit into the cake and saw the gold, prompting cheers all round.

Hannah, who was then presented with her bottle of bubbly, said: “I didn’t realise what it was at first and wondered what I had found in the middle. It was a lovely surprise.”

As well as the Golden Cup Cake search, this year’s coffee mornings at Colten Care featured plenty of conversation and other fun. There were mufti days for staff, guess-the-weight-of-the-cake games, cake sales, singalongs and dances.

At The Aldbury, two musicians from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, violinist Jennifer Curiel and pianist and French horn player Kevin Pritchard, performed popular classical pieces and childhood songs such as Run Rabbit Run. Among the residents singing and dancing along were Mary Cooper, Elizabeth Kay and Win Clowerly.

Fellow resident at The Aldbury, Abdu ‘Hobi’ Sabih, did his bit to collect donations. He helped Companion Melissa Siat Caparros to push the fundraising cake trolley around the home, chatting with residents, staff and visitors.
Elaine Farrer, Colten Care’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We always support the Macmillan Coffee Morning with all 21 of our homes taking part. It’s a fantastic community initiative. We invite families, friends and local contacts to come and join us for a coffee social and enjoy the fun. The prospect of winning a golden cupcake adds even more interest.”
The first Macmillan Coffee Morning took place in 1990 with the simple idea of encouraging people to donate the cost of their cuppa to Macmillan Cancer Support to help the charity’s work for people with cancer. Since then, more than £300 million has been raised.

According to Macmillan, one in two of us will face cancer. The charity’s aim is to help everyone with cancer to live life as fully as they can.

For more information and to donate, visit

Colten Care residents honour ‘superstar’ carers with Champions awards

Hundreds of residents from our 21 care homes have honoured the staff who enable them to live the best lives they can every day.
Colten Care’s Champions awards prompted nominations across nine categories reflecting a range of clinical and non-clinical care.

Individuals, teams, homes and departments were all recognised as the annual scheme culminated in a glittering evening at Bournemouth’s Highcliff Marriott Hotel.

Around 140 guests dressed up in style for the awards ceremony and celebration, hosted by TV presenter Dr Hilary Jones.

Nominees and audience members mingled at a welcome reception before stepping into a specially decorated ballroom for dinner, the ceremony itself and the opportunity to dance the night away.

[caption id="attachment_13325" align="alignnone" width="1314"] AWARD. Lucy O’Brien, Senior Administrator at Bourne View in Poole, won the Warm Welcome award. With her is Dr Hilary Jones, who hosted the Colten Champions evening, and Elaine Sheppard, Head of Customer Support.[/caption]

Colten Care residents were represented by special guest Jean Smith, who lives in Poole home Bourne View.

She had previously met Dr Hilary at the home’s official opening in spring 2019 when her late husband, former Poole Mayor Ray Smith MBE, became the first resident to move in.

Catching up with the broadcaster and author once again as they stood on stage, Jean said: “I can’t believe I’m here.”

She then presented Rosa Santos, Senior Care Lead at Newstone House in Sturminster Newton, with the inaugural award for Resident and Relative Choice.

This category, which attracted more than 500 nominations from residents and families, was designed to recognise an individual or team ‘who have truly made a difference to your life or your loved one’s life since coming to Colten Care’.

The common theme for Rosa’s multiple nominations was her ‘kind and welcoming approach to both residents and relatives. Rosa has patience to understand residents needs so well which has such a positive outcome for their care’.
One relative wrote: “It is always a please to see Rosa on duty, she cared for my mother and father with such cheerfulness, she would make sure my father was helped upstairs to spend time with my mother when they were on different floors. She works hard to ensure our family are kept informed, added to this her professionalism and positive attitude.”
Among other category winners, Lucy O’Brien, Senior Administrator at Bourne View, who won the Warm Welcome award, described the moment her name was read out.

She said: “It was amazing, a total surprise. I was in a complete daze and then got quite emotional. It was lovely to go up and receive the award in front of everyone and meet Hilary Jones.”

[caption id="attachment_13326" align="alignnone" width="1262"] Colten Care resident Jean Smith, right, was Honorary Guest at the Colten Champions awards. She presented the inaugural Resident and Relative Choice award to Rosa Santos, Senior Care Lead at Newstone House in Sturminster Newton. With them is awards host and TV presenter Dr Hilary Jones.[/caption]
Colten Care Chief Executive Mark Aitchison said: “Colten Champions celebrates the pride and passion our amazing team shows every single day, caring for our residents and their families.

“It is an immense privilege to lead a team full of superstars, always prepared to go above and beyond.

“We thank everyone who put in a Colten Champions nomination and congratulate all the winners, finalists and nominees.”
Mark’s comments were echoed by Colten Care’s Chief Operating Officer Elaine Farrer, who added: “There are so many shining examples of our team supporting and caring for residents, embodying our values and consistently putting the resident at the very heart of all they do.”

After the ceremony, Dr Hilary said: “Colten Champions truly reflects the importance of quality care delivered by a team working together for the benefit of residents. It’s a great initiative and the awards evening is always such a happy occasion.”

As well as the Champions awards themselves, special congratulations were given on stage to Elena Barna, Home Manager at Abbey View in Sherborne, for the home’s recent Outstanding rating from sector regulator the Care Quality Commission.

It means that seven of Colten Care’s 21 homes in Dorset, Hampshire, Wiltshire and West Sussex are officially rated Outstanding, with all the rest rated Good.