What The Great British Bake Off can teach us about working with older people

Chocolate and Ale Cake

As its widespread appeal proves, there’s more to The Great British Bake Off than just a cooking show. With its mix of comfort, creativity, and nostalgia, we look at what The Great British Bake Off can teach us about working with older people:


1) A little patience can go a long way

Your cakes will sink if you open the oven door too soon, so patience is vital when you’re baking. And it’s the same with older people, especially people living with dementia.


You might have 101 things to get done, but taking the time to really listen to what someone is saying is essential. Sometimes someone may find it hard to get their words out or to communicate clearly. Others may just be working up to telling you something important, and you need to listen to the small talk first to get to that point.


And it’s the same with things like mobility. If someone struggles to walk it could seem easier (and certainly quicker) to just put them in a wheelchair and take them where they need to go. But that doesn’t encourage independence or foster self-worth.


At Green Tree Court, we have a high staff to resident ratio. Although every member of our team is busy, they always have the time to stop and chat and to give individuals the time they need to complete a task.


2) It’s good to try something different

The contestants on The Great British Bake Off aren’t afraid to try something new. Unusual flavour combinations or a bold modern look for a traditional favourite really stand out from the crowd and get people talking.


Trying new activities, whatever your age, can get you talking too. At Green Tree Court, we run a wide variety of activities from crafty sessions where creativity gets a chance to run wild, to indoor, chair tennis with balloons. Designed to keep body and mind active, our sessions get people together, creating common ground and sparking conversations.


3) We like nostalgia

The board game biscuit challenge in week two was a reminder that we all like to remember the good old days. And for many people living with dementia, it’s these memories of our childhood that are the strongest. Building on fond memories, we give our residents the chance to continue to tend to their own patch of the garden if they want to.


4) Make it relevant

You can create a delicious dish on Bake Off, but if it’s not what it’s supposed to be, you won’t win star baker. We look to arrange activities that will give our residents a link through to their past. For example, Merle, our Activities Co-Ordinator, organised for a resident who had been a secretary when she was younger to have a proper old-fashioned typewriter to write with.


5) We love baking

We tune in to watch every week, and many of us even give some of the recipes a go. There’s no doubt that baking can make you feel good. We organise regular cooking sessions at Green Tree Court. From the well-documented pleasure of kneading and baking bread to trying something new like sushi, our cooking sessions are sociable, give residents a sense of purpose, and help to kick-start new conversations.



Visit us to find out more

Green Tree Court is dedicated to delivering high-quality nursing and dementia care in a luxurious setting. We’d love to invite you to came and see us for yourself to decide if we are the best place to care for your relative. Call us on 01392 240400 to find out more.


Get baking with this delicious recipe from Tim Ware, Green Tree Court’s award-winning Head Chef

Chocolate and Ale Cake

Chocolate and Ale Cake

50g cocoa powder
200g ale
175g plain flour
1tsp bicarb soda
1\2 tsp baking powder
275g dark soft sugar
110g butter
2 eggs

Mix the cocoa powder and ale together and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar. In a separate bowl sift the dry ingredients together. Beat into the butter and sugar mixture then beat in the eggs. Finally, add the ale and cocoa mix.

Pour into your baking tin and cook for 35 minutes at 160°C.

Cut a slice and enjoy served with Hanlons Brewery Yellow Hammer Ale or a cup of Earl Grey tea.

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