Christmas is a time of thanksgiving and celebration, where families and friends gather together to share the joys of the season. Most homes display some kind of Christmas decorations and in recent years many of these have become more ornate, with an increasing number of people including the outside of their home in the Christmas theme!

However, just spare a thought for families with complex needs this Christmas time. If they are caring at home for adults or children with complex health needs, the decoration process needs to be carefully thought through so that their loved one can participate in whatever way they are able. Whether this is being involved in choosing the decorations, deciding where to place them, or helping to actually put them up depends very much on the needs and abilities of the individual concerned.

It should also be mentioned that some individuals with complex health needs will not like Christmas decorations. This can be for all kinds of reasons and the family may well decide either not to display them or to keep the Christmas theme very low key. Or they may like some Christmas decorations as long as there is not too much change too quickly. An article in The Daily Mail describes Christmas for a family with two autistic boys describes how their Christmas decorations have to be very gradual: “ We start with a few cards, then a bit of tinsel and a few decorations at a time. If we change the room overnight, the children don’t like it. We used to have a Christmas tree with baubles and lights, but Lee found this distressing because it was too loud and busy. So now we have a fibre-optic tree. Lee finds this particularly soothing – we’ll often turn the other lights out and just sit watching the fibre optics change colour.”

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For residents in our specialist care homes we are very aware of the sensitivity to sudden change of many service users with complex health needs and involve them fully in the decoration process. Our person-centered care is a year-round watch that does not shut down for Christmas!

We have been busy with our residents, decorating the homes for the festive season, just like the one to the left.

For anyone with a family member or friend with complex health needs, we would recommend the excellent article Tips for having an autism friendly Christmas from the organisation Talk Autism. This lists lots of general considerations to help everyone enjoy Christmas.

From all of us at Freedom Care, Happy Christmas and our very best wishes for a wonderful 2015!

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