TES Classrooms to Care Homes

Why are we asking schools to write letters to care homes?
Watch Classrooms To Care Homes

This December, Tes is encouraging schools to connect with care homes so students can send Christmas letters and video letters to care home residents and the care home workers. Lockdown has been hard for everyone, but care home residents and care home workers have been particularly isolated. Children can help alleviate that loneliness by writing letters or sending video letters in which they share poems, drawings, jokes, riddles and stories about their festive celebrations.

Please share pictures of your pupils writing their letters using the hashtag #classroomstocarehomes.
Guy Shears, chief executive, Central RSA Academies Trust, said:
“Central RSA Academies Trust is proud to take part in this excellent idea from Tes what a fantastic way to spread some light in these difficult times”.

In previous years our schools, situated across Worcester, Kidderminster, Redditch and the Black Country, visited local care homes at Christmas and other times of year to help spread cheer. Pupils looked forward to collecting and delivering hampers, singing carols and enjoying the company of the residents and their carers. This always brings so much joy to the residents, and indeed our pupils.

Dr Helen Edwards, cofounder of Tapestry, said:
“More and more early years settings and care homes are appreciating the enormous benefits of intergenerational activities for both groups of participants. “Older community members are shown love, kindness and empathy by the children which is so important in relieving loneliness and anxiety. In turn, young children’s progress in communication, literacy and social development is supported through purposeful, mutually beneficial activities such as art, sharing stories and playing games.”

Asa Johnson, project manager for activities and memory care at Sunrise Senior Living UK and Gracewell Healthcare, said:
“Opportunities for intergenerational activities can bring great benefits to the older and younger people involved. Different generations can learn from each other, share ideas and experiences with one another, and have a chance to be playful, which is something we can all enjoy regardless of age.

The Christmas period can be a difficult and lonely time for some people, and there is a risk that these feelings may be heightened this year due to the pandemic. The Tes Classrooms to Care Homes Christmas letter campaign is a great opportunity for people to try and tackle those feelings of loneliness, share good news stories and keep communities connected.”

How do you connect with care homes?
Care home workers are likely to be in your school community. So if you know parents at your school are care home workers, it would be a good idea to approach them first as a personal connection to the care home will make it even more special.Otherwise, first make a connection by sending an email or calling care homes in your local area. You might want to use www.carehome.co.uk to find a care home, and then email using the enquiry form. You might like to use the standard email below:

Dear Sir or Madam
I am a teacher at [School Name] and we would like to send your residents a Christmas letter as part of the Classrooms to Care Homes project run by Tes. Would your care home workers and residents like to receive a letter from us?
Kind regards

How should we send our letters?
Option One
Match a child to a resident.
You could choose to match a child to a resident, and each student writes a letter to their care home resident.
Make sure you:
Use only first names and initials.
Don’t share identifying personal information.
Option Two
Write generic letters to be shared.
Rather than addressing specific residents, students write a letter that could be given to any resident.
Option Three
Write one joint class letter.
Everyone writes one letter together, and this is sent to the residents to be shared at the home.
Suggestions of what to include in letters and video letters
It is up to you what you send in your Christmas letter. You might like to include some of the following:
A description of how you have been celebrating Christmas in school.
A festive poem or rhyme.
A joke or riddle.
A drawing or painting of a festive scene.
You might want to send a video instead of a letter
If you are going to send a video, you might like to include some or all of the following:
Messages from individual students to the care home residents.
Recording the classroom displays or artwork made in class.
Clips of students playing instruments – maybe even Christmas carols.
Footage of pupils rehearsing their Christmas show or nativity.
FAQ on creating and sharing videos
How do I record a video?
Videos can be a really fun way to send messages to people. If you want to record a video message, you must first check you have parental permissions. Then when it comes to recording, we have the following suggestions:

You can use your phone or tablet to record if you don’t have a camera.
Use landscape rather than portrait to record the video (holding your
phone sideways).
Tripods are good, or resting the recording device on a flat surface.
Turn on lots of lights if you’re indoors or, if it is a sunny day, go outside.
Try to minimise distracting noises when you’re recording.

How can we send a video?
Video files can be large and difficult to share. There are safe and easy ways to share online that don’t require you to send it as an email.
Use Dropbox
This is a free website where you can upload your video. You will then have a link to the online video that you can share.
Use a private YouTube link
YouTube has private option where videos can be shared by a link and aren’t able to be viewed by the public without the link. All you need is a free YouTube account, and when you upload opt for “private”. You can then email this link to the residents’ home, and even your pupils’ parents.
Upload the video to your school website
Another easy way to share the video would be to upload the recording to your school website and then send the link to the residential care home.
Guidance for posting letters in a Covid-safe way
The Royal Mail have advised that it is safe for letters to be sent via post. On their website, they say:
“Is it safe to handle mail?
Yes. Public Health England (PHE), the key health authority has advised that people handling letters and parcels are not at risk of contracting the coronavirus.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has also advised that coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, such as letters or packages.”