As the COVID-19 pandemic compelled nursing homes to restrict visitors and outside entertainment, an activities director at this UK facility came up with a project to lift its vulnerable residents’ spirits.
Sydmar Lodge has been on lockdown since March 12, which means it’s been four months since the tenants have seen their families or had any entertainment from outside. Robert Speker, the activities director, thought the residents could use some cheering up, so he started a brilliant project: recreating classic album covers with the elderly folks posing as the rock stars.
In an interview with CTV News Channel, Robert said he’s had the idea for a while, but the hardships brought about by the pandemic convinced him that this was the right time to do it.
“We are not a stereotypical care home,” he said. “We don’t really do quizzes and bingos. We think way outside the box. We can’t even see the box.”
Robert took charge of assigning the album cover best suited for each resident. He also did the wardrobe, makeup, lighting, and photography. His goal of keeping their spirits up worked, as each resident who participated “had a real good laugh” doing it.
Side-by-side photos of the original and recreated covers took social media by storm when Robert shared the residents’ fresh takes on Twitter last week.
93-year-old Vera emulated British singer Adele in her 21 cover.
In his blue jeans, Martin Steinberg posed in the front of the English flag in his own version of Bruce Springsteen’s famous Born in the USA.
Roma Cohen rocked her own version of David Bowie’s iconic lightning-bolt painted face, its blue and orange hues highlighted by her white hair.
Toba David is looking fierce in her black leather jacket as she poses like the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.
Even Elvis Presley would be proud when he sees Shiela Solomons improvise with a walking cane instead of an acoustic guitar for this cover below.
Lily channeled her inner Madonna as she threw her head back and imitated Madonna’s iconic album cover.
The carers also featured in one cover copying the band Queen.
“Carers have worked very hard during very testing times,” Robert said. “I felt this was a good way to acknowledge them.”
So far, the images have earned over 135.7K likes, 43.8K retweets, and thousands of comments from people worldwide. Many commenters suggested that Robert create a book or calendar to raise money. Others also recommended artists they should do next, including Lady Gaga, Fleetwood Mac, and Janis Joplin.
Many news outlets wanting to feature their story also reached out to Robert. The reaction has been so overwhelming that he had to ask his sister to become his personal assistant while his wife tends to their third child, who was just born a couple of weeks ago.
Robert took advantage of their newfound fame to forward a cause – raising funds for Alzheimer’s UK and Dementia Friends, two charities chosen by the nursing home residents. He launched a GoFundMe for this about a week ago with a goal of £5,000. So far, the campaign has collected £2,998.
“As this situation is on-going it could be months before the situation changes for them and the need to keep them happy entertained and full of spirit has Anever been more crucial,” he wrote in the crowdfunding page.
“Elderly people will remain in lockdown for a long time, and I want to make their time as happy and full of enjoyment and interest as possible.”
As it turns out, Robert has been known at Sydmar Lodge for his inventiveness. He’s been working at the nursing home since 2015, and he won awards for his brilliant activity ideas for the residents.
“Robert continues to astound us with his creative, and somewhat ‘out of the box’ ideas,” Sydmar Lodge Manager Julie Davey says on the facility’s website.
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