Eastleigh care home hosting virtual afternoon teas to connect residents


Residents and staff at Moore Place care home playing bingo during a virtual afternoon tea party with Orchard Gardens care home

Anchor care homes across England are joining together for virtual afternoon tea parties via video call, to connect and unite residents during this challenging time.

With all non-essential visits to care homes on pause, staff are harnessing the power of technology to provide alternative opportunities for residents to socialise and build on their valuable community relationships.

The first tea party took place last month between Orchard Gardens care home in Eastleigh, and Moore Place care home in Surrey. More than 12 residents came together to enjoy a lively game of bingo and chatted over tea and homemade cakes. The session was a resounding success; originally planned for an hour, the tea party lasted twice the amount of time and went down a treat with residents, who kept requesting more games of bingo.

Elaine Jones (aged 86), resident at Orchard Gardens care home, says:

‘The afternoon tea was marvellous. It was wonderful to have a change and have other people to play bingo with – I didn’t even know it was possible for us to do that! I’d love to do it again. Maybe we could do a quiz next time!’

Inspired by its success, care home managers have been launching their own regular virtual afternoon teas in Anchor care homes across the country, with residents enjoying a variety of fun activities such as quizzes and exercise classes. The sessions have boosted spirits and enabled residents to feel part of a community, despite restrictions on social interactions currently in place.

Anchor’s dedicated care staff are not stopping there. Staff are also liaising with local community groups to support people who live alone, encouraging them to ‘dial-in’ and join the sessions, providing companionship during a time of increased loneliness and isolation.

Since the start of the government-imposed restrictions, put in place in response to the coronavirus pandemic, many older people have had to embrace technology as a means to access vital services and stay connected to friends and family. Many have done so successfully. In fact, new research by Anchor Hanover has found that 1 in 4 (28%) people aged 70+ feel empowered by their use of technology during the restrictions .

The virtual tea parties are just one example of the way in which Anchor’s care home staff have helped residents embrace technology and new communication methods during the pandemic. Alongside video calls helping them stay in touch with loved ones, residents have been kept entertained and stimulated by virtual exercise sessions, zoo tours and theatre events, demonstrating Anchor’s ongoing commitment to supporting their physical and mental wellbeing.

Chelsea Card, Team Leader at Moore Place care home, says:

We loved doing the virtual afternoon tea with Orchard Gardens. This is a fantastic way to socialise our residents further during these difficult times. The residents thoroughly enjoyed it and were amazed by how we were able to connect so well with people in a different part of the country. We are in the midst of planning our next session, and I hope our relationship with Orchard Gardens continues after this is all over!’

Chloe Gray, Team Leader at Orchard Gardens care home, says:

‘The residents thought the afternoon tea was great fun and didn’t want the game of bingo to finish! In these difficult times, it is amazing that we have the technology to keep our residents connected with their loved ones and the outside world. As a team, we make sure that every resident has the opportunity to interact with their friends and family, and have some fun.’

Lisa Sands, Community Partnerships Manager at Anchor Hanover, who set up the afternoon teas, says:

‘As our homes are unable to welcome visitors currently, I felt it was really important to enable our residents to stay connected with their loved ones, and also reach out to the networks we have made within their local communities. The virtual afternoon teas have been really successful so far, the initiative is growing steadily, and we are linking more and more homes across the country.’