Some staff may be excitedly planning for a Valentine’s Day celebration with a special someone. Others are getting ready for their children’s Valentine’s Day party at school. There are some who dread the day because of lost love or no love in their life. Disabled people living in group homes often don’t have anything to look forward to with family or anyone else in their lives. Often they have never had love in their lives. They are often painfully aware of the holiday because residents are exposed to Valentine’s Day ads, promotions, and decorations. As group home support staff, it is our responsibility to adapt the holidays for those we are paid to care for. There are ways to many ways make it a special and meaningful day for them. Here are a few ideas…
Have a Valentine’s Day Gift Exchange
Often a gift exchange is just among those in one home, but it can be more fun and interesting to exchange names from a nearby group home from the same company that provides community living services or from another company. To find other group homes near by from other companies talk with the staff at the resident’s day programs or work programs. Having an exchange with people who are not paid to be in their lives, like other group home residents, can have more meaning.
Plan a Special Valentine’s Day Meal
The meal can be at home or a special night out at a nice restaurant. No matter where the dinner will be have the residents choose a special outfit and take time to look their best. Check for holiday specials that often offer meals for two at a discounted price. Some restaurants have portions large enough for two people. Order one meal and ask for two extra plates so that both people can get their portion off the plate, family style. Most places don’t charge a “second plate fee”.
When finances aren’t available to go out, plan a nice meal at the group home. When possible choose table cloths and settings that let the residents know that they are special. Red or white fits with the Valentine theme and can be used again for other occasions. Local dollar stores will have inexpensive decorations.
Have a Homemade Card Exchange Between Staff and Residents
It is easy to go to the store and pick out something for the residents to receive from the group home as a whole or individual staff members, but the residents should feel like they have something to offer and give to others. Helping them make cards and making cards for them is an inexpensive way to do that. There are many ideas online for Homemade Gifts Here 16 Homemade Valentine Ideas. Boxes or bags can be decorated for each resident and staff to keep their cards in. The cards can then be used as room decorations or to create a collage.
(Image courtesy of Apolonia/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net)