With the recent wet weather we've been having, our summer plans of outdoor fun and cocktails in the garden have been postponed until sunnier skies appear once again.
At Harrier Grange Care Home in Andover, there is one thing that can brighten the gloomiest of days, and that is of course chocolate! This month, our residents have embarked on a sensational sensory tour into the wonderful world of chocolate, right from the comfort of their own home.
We started off by watching a short documentary that explained the complex journey that the Cacao plant takes from seed to wrapper, learning about the specific climate cacao plants need to grow and how factories calculate the different percentages of chocolate to make dark, milk and white.
We also learnt about what happens to the leftover product and how it gets repurposed and comes full circle to help new Cacao seeds grow. After taking the time to learn a bit about all the hard work that goes into making this delicious treat, we obviously had to taste it for ourselves, how could we not?
Our activities team organised a scrumptious, blind taste testing of some of ‘Green and Blacks’ best-selling flavours to see if our residents could fulfil that lifelong dream of being a professional chocolate taster.
After tasting each different chocolate we then cast a vote out of 10 to see which was our favourite flavour of the day and the results came in with Ginger being the most popular.
Once we had managed to get through all that chocolate, we ended our session with a fun quiz, in which residents were asked to guess famous chocolate bar brands, but with a plot twist; all the brand logos had been photoshopped out, leaving only a few clues behind to hint at what it could be.
Our residents had so much fun trying to guess what they could be and were reminded of some old favourites that some residents hadn’t seen in years. It was a great opportunity for the residents to build on the relationships they have formed in the home, and they really enjoyed the sweet twist of this activity.
When we plan activities here at Harrier Grange Care Home, we want them to simply provide more than pleasure to our residents. As well as ensuring our residents enjoy themselves, we also host activities to support team building and communication skills, as well as reminiscence to help encourage memory retention as well as emotional regulation and strategic thinking.
‘The Wonder of Chocolate’ activity engaged residents in all these aspects, but sometimes, the simplicity of boosting the endorphins is all an activity really needs to be. While we try to incorporate multiple elements to engage and nourish our residents’ brains to keep them healthy and stimulated, ‘food for the soul’ is just as enriching to boost endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin levels.
A lot of our residents lived through a time when war oppressed a huge amount of those important happy hormones and for a time where small luxuries like chocolate were such a significant part of their life and mental wellbeing, it’s not surprising that it still carries the same weight significance today.