There was much excitement on the day Maidstone Care Centre received their very first ‘Ladder to the Moon’ box. Although the activities team were aware of its contents, the residents had no idea what was inside or how it might be used to entertain, stimulate or lead to anything that might be of any particular interest to them. For them it was black box containing… well, they had no idea.
"On opening the box we revealed a selection of photo props directly related to film stars from yesteryear. It didn’t take long for residents to begin recognising actors and actresses, searching their brains for film roles and swapping anecdotes relating to trips to the cinema or ‘pictures’.
(Please scroll down to see photos of the magical happenings!)
Many residents were keen to try on the hats and accessories and more than happy to have their photo taken.
It was a positive experience for Daphne, who had not been involved in activities until this stage, relishing the idea of taking on the role of Audrey Hepburn and Ernest beaming at the camera in his Charlie Chaplin hat.
Our first box had clearly been a success and we thought that by the end of the session we had utilised it effectively. However, it was then that Colin started to speak about his time in the army and the subject of uniforms was mentioned by a member of the activities team.
It was then suggested that we might take the ‘dressing up’ a stage further by bringing in some armed forces uniforms in order to allow the residents the opportunity to reminisce.
A week later we were fortunate enough to acquire army and navy uniforms from a local theatre’s wardrobe department and brought them in for any interested residents to see, touch and possibly try on.
Colin was keen to dress up in the army officer’s uniform and appeared to enjoy having his photo taken, a copy of which was printed and framed for him. This now has pride of place on his window sill.
Due to the small sizing of the uniforms it was not possible for all residents to try them on, therefore, Amy, our Activities Co-ordinator donned first the Army red cap uniform and then the Wrens uniform and did her own tour of duty around the home.
None of us were quite prepared for the reaction of some of our residents or the looks of surprise, amazement and recognition on their faces.
Barbara said it ‘was better than Christmas’, Cyril said ‘Oh wow, very good, you look the part’ and Vera kept repeating that she had worn that uniform and tried hard to convince Amy to go off and join the army. But it was the looks on their faces, the sharp intakes of breath and the emotion in their eyes that left us all with a lump in our throats.
The whole episode was very touching for both staff and residents and when we printed of the pictures in black and white and sepia the results were like taking a step back in time, which presumably is how it must have felt for the residents involved."
"None of this would have come about were it not for our first Ladder to the Moon box, the act of ‘thinking outside the box’ and letting it take you in a direction that touches and hopefully benefits one, some, or all of the residents.