Cunningham House gets into the swing of a 1940s and ’50s Christmas


The colours, music and memories of the 1940s and ’50s filled our Cunningham House in North Weald at the weekend, which staged a fantastic fancy dress party to trigger thoughts of Christmases past for residents and older people in the community. 

As part of our Coping at Christmas campaign to offer the hand of friendship to isolated older people, the special event was aimed at people with dementia living both in Cunningham House and the surrounding area. 

Cunningham House has a specialist dementia unit as well as offering top quality care to elderly people. House manager Paul Buckle invited along local people living with the condition, and their families and carers to join in the fun. 

Residents enjoy fancy dress, dancing and music at our Cunningham House in North Weald as part of Coping at ChristmasPaul said: "People with dementia are no different to anyone else who feels lonely at Christmas. They hold on to their emotions, it’s just they can’t always access their memories in chronological order. They may feel they are missing someone and feel the emotional side of loneliness without quite knowing the reason why. The party was all about making an emotional connection to yesterday and encouraging reminiscing, which is so important for all older people’s quality of life, not just those with dementia."

"We’re nearing the end of the generation of people who remember the 1940s and ’50s, so we wanted to trigger memories with the fashions of the period and we brought in a swing band for a real party atmosphere."

We are a specialist in dementia care. Cunningham House has a dementia care unit, and other homes run by the charity, such as New Malden in Surrey, are equipped with vintage furniture and equipment to stimulate residents’ memories.

The Cunningham House party also highlighted the three main reasons that older people end up in hospital: dehydration, pressure ulcers and falls, and how carers and families can help to avoid them. 

But at the heart of the event was alleviating loneliness among older people during the festive period. we are now in our fifth year of our Coping at Christmas campaign, which offers free events, meals and even overnight stays for over-55s living alone. 

Our own research shows that around half a million older people in the UK will spend Christmas Day alone this year and nine out of 10 of those polled said that company was a crucial element to a good Christmas. 

Paul said: "The John Lewis TV advert has got more people thinking about the loneliness older people often suffer over the festive period. Abbeyfield’s Coping at Christmas reaches out to older people to show them they don’t have to be alone, and we are here for them, whether they want to pop in for a coffee and a mince pie, or stay for a Christmas meal with us. "

"And at Cunningham House, it’s not just about Christmas – we invite people into our home throughout the year. In fact, we’re known as a bit of a party house. In 2015, we’ve had a dominoes day to remind people about the dangers of falls, and a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party to highlight the importance of staying hydrated.

"Life is for living, and living in a care home doesn’t mean you stop having fun."

To find out more about Coping at Christmas, visit our Coping at Christmas section or call our Hotline on 01727 734077

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