I have a close relative who just doesn’t do Christmas.

While everyone else is busy shopping, decorating the tree and wondering how to seat extra people around the dining table for Christmas dinner, he prefers to carry on `business as usual’. I always persuade him to come for Christmas dinner and, because he loves me, he attends and does his best to be jolly. But his heart really isn’t in it.

Christmas isn’t fun for many people for all sorts of reasons; often it reminds people of past, bad experiences. For Christians it is a special time but not everyone celebrates faith in the same way. Some other people just don’t agree politically with the expense and frivolity of the `season to be jolly’. My relative sits with the latter.

Whilst not naive to the hardships and viewpoints of other people Christmas to me is a time to come together to share joy, happiness, and celebration. Bringing that joy to other people means, the way I see it anyway, including them with invitations to celebration events plus cards and gifts. The thought of excluding someone from these celebrations is anathema. Every year my close relative says ` really, there is no need to include me – I am fine. Please go ahead without me’. I don’t heed his view because at the back of my mind is the possibility that deep down, he doesn’t really mean it. He lives alone and I worry that while the rest of us are having fun he may be feeling unhappy.

Is that one of the blocks to implementing person centredness in care homes? Do we default to our own viewpoint instead of taking seriously the view of someone else?

In care homes we listen to people’s life stories and write care plans that include the things they like to do, their beliefs and preferences. We then go right ahead and provide the care that is popular to the majority. When someone doesn’t demonstrate pleasure at what we provide we wonder what’s wrong; is he or she unwell, becoming depressed or just being antisocial?

My invitation to Christmas dinner has been extended as usual although this year, and last, he had the perfect excuse to decline – COVID has been a blessing to him.

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GLORIA HAYNES
Associate Consultant and Trainer
MCM
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