I have worked in the care sector since I left college at 19. I have worked both as a domiciliary carer in the community and in nursing homes. I then became an activity assistant, which I did for 3 years before moving homes and becoming the head activities co-coordinator which I have been doing for 4 years now.
I work with a great team and we were very proud to receive our overall ‘Good’ rating with CQC last year with an ‘Outstanding’ in responsive. I am still working as an activity co-ordinator but alongside that I also work for another company who provide training specifically for activities coordinators. We have developed a training programme that covers useful resources, planning, stages of dementia and CQC. Three other trainers and I deliver this all over the country and have really enjoyed doing this. I am so lucky to do the job that I do and absolutely love it.
Top Ten Tips for Organising a 100th Birthday Party
1. Before you start planning
You need to check with your resident that they want to celebrate this occasion. There are many reasons someone might not want to celebrate their birthday but there’s nothing worst then being forced to celebrate something you would rather not, so always check first.
My resident was very excited to celebrate her birthday and to share those celebrations with others.
2. Work with friends and family of the birthday person.
It maybe that they can’t come and celebrate on their actual birthday and would like to do it at a weekend or evening, or they may have plans to take the resident out but are happy for you to plan party in the home before or after.
My resident only has one living relative who could not make it on the day, but asked if we could still have a party for her and invite her friends both from inside and outside the home.
Once you’ve established when you can hold your party think practicality, is this centenarian able to get out of bed, or their room. Maybe we need to plan a party in their bedroom, or perhaps they are able to come to social area you have in the home. Some homes have family rooms, dining rooms, lounges etc. that can be used for such an occasion.
We had our party in our communal area where we often have entertainment or afternoon teas, etc. and the resident was able to come in her wheelchair.
4. Think about food
Are you going to cater for this party, what food will be appropriate for this resident (i.e., are they on a soft diet), and are you going to include drink?
My resident's relative had arranged for a beautiful cake to be made and delivered, and then our catering team did a small spread of party food, sausage rolls, sandwiches, cakes etc. Also my residents's favourite drink is Prosecco so she was thrilled when we brought out a few bottles on ice and declared ‘Everyone drink and be merry!’
You may want banners or balloons which you can buy from most high street celebration shops. I also use a website called Party Packs which is great to get everything in one place and delivered to you.
Something else which is nice to do is to put up pictures of the resident at different times in their life and through the different decades, it’s a great talking point for everyone coming.
6. Birthday Card
If you would like to receive a free birthday card from the Queen you can do this online at Gov.uk
Or you can download a form to print off, fill out and send in the post - as long as the person celebrating in a British National.
You can apply up to 3 weeks before the residents birthday, or 5 weeks before if you apply online. You can also apply 6 months afterwards, for a belated birthday message. (A two week extension can be allowed for holiday periods such as Christmas and Easter)
You will need to send a photocopy of the person’s birth certificate which will be returned, if you don’t have access to a copy you can find more information about what to do on the application form which can be found at www.royal.uk
My resident's birthday was on Christmas Eve, so we applied at the beginning of November, the card arrived 2 days before her birthday, via special delivery, which has to be sign for.
7. Press release
You may want to contact your local newspaper to cover this momentous occasion, with your resident’s permission of course. They will often send a photographer on the day, or if one isn’t available then you can send in a high quality picture and some information about the resident.
We sent pictures in and our resident was so happy to receive our local paper the following week with her picture in.
8. Special Requests
Would your resident wish for anything special on their day and can you realistically do it?
My Resident loves children, but never had any of her own, so along with the friends we invited, we asked staff members if they would come in with their own children. We also work closely with our local Girl Guides and Scouts group and some of them came in with handmade cards and gifts which was absolutely lovely.
9. Take Lots of Pictures
It is so nice that even after the event the resident can reminisce about the day, so take lots of pictures.
We actually got a little book made of all the pictures from the day and my resident still likes to look back on them and remember a beautiful day.
10 Plan B
Always have a contingency plan. You may have planned to have a party outside because it’s the middle of summer and then on the day it ends up raining cats and dogs, so always have a back-up plan.
On my resident's actual birthday we had to close the home due to a vomiting bug, and so had to contact all the people we had invited and tell them that the party had to be postponed. We then had the party a week later on New Year’s Day and the resident’s relative was able to join us for the celebrations.
My resident wanted to thank everyone who came, sent cards and/or presents, so we started a list of who had come, who had sent what and then I bought lots of thank you cards, we sat down together and wrote them out (I did most of the writing, but she signed them all) and sent them off. This was very important to her, so it was an important part of her celebration.
I hope these tips help you in the planning of your 100th Birthday Party and I hope all celebrating enjoy their special day.