Christmas at Galanos House

Christmas is a special time for most families, and it is no different at The Royal British Legion's care homes. Ali Baskerville spent Christmas Day with the Legion family at Galanos House.

Sun light streaks into the main entrance way as family members arrive to visit their loved ones in the Royal British Legion’s Galanos House in Warwickshire. It’s Christmas Day and the staff are busy preparing over 90 turkey lunches for the residents.

Galanos is a bustling, vibrant home whose elderly residents now live here after life in the wider community became too challenging. Apart from the residential area, the staff also cater for those with dementia and the Poppy Lodge provides specialist care to these men and women who need extra attention.

"We want them to feel like this is their home. We don't wear a name badge or a uniform so they feel like they are at home," says Jo Wilson, the manager. Staff are on call to deliver presents and provide entertainment throughout the day, but it’s not too long before the residents retire to their rooms for some Christmas TV and a post lunch snooze. 

Getting in the festive mood

Christmas cards and poppies are used to decorate a notice board as staff and residents get into the Christmas spirit.

Gus MacDonald gets ready to appear as Santa on Christmas Day at the Galanos Care home in Warwickshire.

Not all the residents will spend the day in Galanos and family members are invited to take their relatives home for Christmas Day.

Terri Peplos, a member of staff, dresses as a pixie as she visits residents in the Poppy Lodge for dementia care at Galanos House. 

Each resident’s bedroom has a noticeboard, specially decorated with tinsel and cards for Christmas.

Many of the Christmas decorations have been made by the residents.

Danny Jones (83) enjoys a cuddle with Tilly the terrier. Elaine, a care worker at Galanos, owns Tilly and brings her around the home for residents to play with.

CHristmas Lunch

In the kitchen, Marion Pails (62) spoons out some soup as they prepare 90 Christmas dinners at the Galanos Care Home.

Linda Jaco (60) has worked at Galanos since the age of 16 and this is just one of many Christmas lunches she has prepared over the past 44 years.

A noticeboard in the kitchen of Galanos Care Home lists some of the special requirements for residents who will be served Christmas Day lunch. 

Former WRAF Daphne Pitt, one of the residents, sits in the warm sunlight as she waits for her Christmas dinner.

Ladies enjoy their Christmas lunch at Galanos. Judith Boardman (second from right) is spending Christmas visiting her mother Gwen (second from the left) at the home. "This is a hard year. It's the first time we haven't had home cooked mince pies from Mum, but I can't think of a better place for her to come. The care here is amazing."

Isabel Smith enjoys a glass of sherry with her Christmas lunch. During her time in the WRAF, Isabel served in the telephone exchange at Area Command HQ Pitreavie Castle 18th Group Rosyth and at MacMary Station with 1 Squadron Blenheim Bombers. She met her husband, a navigator in RAF 86 Squadron, while at the Coastal Command HQ. They were happily married for 57 years and had 3 children.

Ho, Ho, Ho!

"Santa" talks to a resident after delivering gifts to everyone.

Effie Flowers, a resident at Galanos, shows her Christmas presents to one of the staff at Galanos House. "Oh look at all this shower gel! Tomorrow I'm going to have a really long shower and run through the garden in the nude."

Each resident receives a santa sack gift bag full of goodies.

Special pamper pack and chocolates are amongst some of the goodies given to the residents.

Entertainment manager Craig Edser, appropriately dressed as a Christmas elf, hugs one of the ladies in the Poppy Lodge as he delivers her a bag of presents.

Another Christmas almost over

Normal life must go on even on Christmas Day. Support worker Tracey Barnes keeps the laundry running from 7am until 7pm. "I love working here," she says. "It's like having an extension to your family. Lots of Grandmas and Grandads!"

After a busy day one of the residents is helped back to her room for a post-lunch nap.

A Christmas card sits next to family pictures in one of the residents rooms.  Most of the residents will decorate and furnish their room to feel like home.

All photos copyright to The Royal British Legion / Alison Baskerville

About The Royal British Legion Care Homes

Galanos House is one of four care homes that provide personal care within dedicated and specially designed environments for Legion beneficiaries living with dementia. In 2015, Galanos House was recognised by the industry for its high standard of care and dedicated dementia care unit - Poppy Lodge - and was named 'Care Home of the Year 2015' by the National Care Awards.

In total, the Legion runs six care homes exclusively for ex-Service people and their dependants. Affectionately known as 'Poppy Homes', they provide personal and nursing care, and specialist care for dementia and younger physically disabled people. And because our homes are exclusive to ex-Service people and their dependants, there's a unique camaraderie and family atmosphere.