Activities & Entertainment: The new approach to care home performances

  • By Natalie Bradshaw
  • 08 Jun, 2017

Full Beam Productions owner, Natalie Bradshaw, talks us through how care home activities are changing - and why we should keep up.

When myself and Jim decided to approach care homes with activities and entertainment, it was new territory to us both. We had worked hard, for many years, as members of teams at resorts worldwide - working our way up from Animation to Team Leader, to Management - and so we had a good idea as to how to put together performances targeted at certain audience types, but care homes presented a whole new range of obstacles to overcome.

We have been providing activities now for nearly two years, and working closely with some of the biggest care home providers in the UK has certainly helped to shape our business, performers, and the shows we put together - and now, we are pushing forward with putting Full Beam Productions at the head of a new era of care home entertainment; one which comes away from war time classics, and sleepy songs, and instead creates excitement, smiles, laughter and fun for that short hour in which we are invited into the lives of those being cared for.

It's a very rewarding business to be in, but it's also one which needs to be done correctly for it to be effective. Today, I'm breaking down exactly how Full Beam Productions works, and how our approach puts a refreshing new spin on activities, and hopefully takes a step towards shaping the future of entertainment in a care home environment.
activities and entertainment in care homes
Residents at a local home enjoy weekly performances with Jim Pyle

The decline of the war time...

Studies show that most residents in a care home environment are women, aged 85 years.

This would mean that during World War 2, these residents were, at their youngest, 7 years of age, and at the end of the war, they had barely turned into teenagers. Have a think back to when you were this age - can you remember who your favourite artist was? How about your most listened to song? I remember that I was a huge fan of The Spice Girls, and my friends and I used to create dances to their latest track in the playground. 

But I also remember that most of my happiest memories happened to tracks when I was much older. The soundtrack to my first relationship was certainly not Wannabe , and my graduation ceremony didn't have S Club 7 blasting out at full volume. I certainly didn't go into a club at 18 years old and hear these either - and my best times so far involve all of these moments and more.
activities and entertainment in care homes
The Spice Girls were the soundtrack of my childhood - but it's my teen years I want to remember the most
Of course, the days of singing Vera Lynn and all of her wartime classics are far from behind us - and I believe that they will always have a firm place in a care home environment, as a way of reminding us of history, and celebrating the fact that we are still here. But whilst a few activity coordinators seem to visibly shudder at the thought, we have found an increasing number of residents wanting to hear a few more of their favourite artists from a little later in life.

On a weekly basis, we are informed by a jolly resident that they firmly remember going dancing to Elvis, or fangirling over Cliff Richard. The men tap their toes and daydream of those days where they could swing like Sinatra, and all of them recall The Beatles hitting the scene in the 60's - many residents only being in their 30s at this time.
So when is the right time to bring wartime songs to the forefront, and when should you head in the other direction?

Giving residents more choice increases their independence

Full Beam Productions offers the possibility of requesting which songs your residents would like to hear.

We even have a form, which we can send to you, making it easier to write the name of the resident, followed by their favourite song or artist. This form can then be scanned back to our offices, where our performers will work as hard as possible to include these requests - dedicating them to the individual who has selected them.*

This option of choice puts the organisation of activities and entertainment into the hands of the residents. It gives them the independence of making the decision, and the knowledge that they are going to enjoy the performance. In turn, this then gives the activity coordinator the positive sense that the entertainment is going to be a success, and gives the performer peace of mind that the song selection is going to be appreciated by the audience.

This is a sure fire way of making sure that if they want to, then residents can hear  Kiss Me Goodnight, Sergeant Major - but at the same time, opens the door for other possibilities at the same time.

We also allow staff to make requests, so don't be shy!

*Please note, requests need to be made at least 7 days in advance, allowing our performers enough time to learn.
activities and entertainment in care homes
Jim Pyle sings with Activity Co-Ordinator at Partridge House

Celebrating specific months with themed shows & productions

With a full creative team available, Full Beam Productions are able to create bespoke shows for care homes and retirement villages, which can celebrate any time of year. We also have an array of shows available each month, all to a different theme, which can includes costumes, lighting, gifts, prizes, props, singers and dancers! We have found that these shows are becoming more and more popular, as it means that each month can be celebrated with a different idea - for example, Swing Into Spring brought dancers in showgirl feathers, to celebrate the start of Spring time, with the music of everybody's favourite swing artists. 

We always include a wartime show within our set themed shows - this year, this happened in May, and we've found it to be a very popular booking, as it gives the homes a good way of nodding towards this, enjoying an afternoon of flag waving, and then moving on to Rock and Roll in June, for some completely different memories.
activities and entertainment in care homes
A variety of set, themed shows each month gives something to look forward to, whilst covering every genre
Our set shows, laid out above in the image, are not negotiable - we set the songs and dances in advance, and so we cannot add anything in, despite requests. We usually need a little bit more space for these shows as well - all performances costing £150 are with 3 performers, and we bring our backcloth, speakers and usually a tap board with us as well for these shows. This is always useful to bear in mind.

Keeping to the budget...

Having a different show available each month also lends towards the matter of budgeting, and the fact that not many care homes have an unlimited budget for performers. That option of booking a whole year of shows with Full Beam Productions, opens the door for money saving packages, which can save the home up to £100, plus give them free performances too! For example, one of our regular bookers, chose a different show for each month, received £95.00 off their overall booking, and also had the pleasure of a FREE opera afternoon with Britain's Got Talent auditionee, Natalie Bradshaw - a treat for everybody involved.

Another key fact to remember is that we take your overall price, and divide it by the number of shows you have booked - so for example, you could be paying £80 per month, for performances which are priced at £150! A much more manageable price to pay each month, and usually well within budget.

Of course, not every home has a large budget, which is why we have always, and will always, continue to offer our soloist performances, which are priced at just £50, or a duo set for £75. Again, there are discounts available, for fortnightly or monthly bookings, and we can adapt the timetable to give you a different performer each time we visit, if you require, or give you one singer, who will become a staple part of your residents every day living, by visiting often.
Our £150 shows include 3 performers, plus lots of scenery.

No hidden extras.

A lot of performers, and agencies providing entertainment for care homes, will have hidden costs. This can include charges for fuel, travel time, different times of day... There are lots of things to consider. Whilst we at Full Beam aspire to make a living, we also want to keep our performances affordable, and plain to see. This means that we will let you know in your first quote whether travel costs are to be added - and this will never be more than £15 extra. If your home is beyond this amount, we will strive to find somebody local - we have excellent singers based in Northern Wales, Derbyshire, Southampton and Hampshire, and our list is ever growing.

We also won't include any extras on the day - for example, our pet hate: song lyrics. If we do not know a song off by heart, we simply will not sing it. We only hire the most professional performers - and they would not go on stage with lyrics on a stand next to them, so why should your performance be any different? Knowing our songs off by heart also means we can travel around the room, interact with residents, and not be constrained to the front of the room by a piece of paper and a wire - another "hidden extra" that won't be coming with us! Sometimes we will bring along a second pair of hands, for setting up, and pressing play - but again, there is no extra charge for this, so you don't need to worry!

Why Full Beam Productions are the future of care home entertainment.

It is usual for a company to recommend themselves - of course, it wouldn't make sense if we were to say you shouldn't choose us. But, we firmly believe that we know what care home activity co-ordinators are searching for. Therefore, we have put together a little check list of things that you might be thinking about - and a brief explanation as to why we fit the bill!

A variety of shows to choose from.
We offer a range of shows, within a range of prices, so you could fill your entire entertainment calendar for the year, just by calling our offices. And with discounts available, it's a clever option that saves you money, and stress.

High quality singers.
All of our performers are professionals. Not only are they experienced in care home performances, most have been on larger stages - including West End. A lot of our singers have regular vocal classes, or teach themselves, to keep their voices in the best condition, and we never hire anybody without listening to them singing, and watching them performing first! Our casting team are very strict - they've worked with some of the biggest names in the recording business, so they know what to look for. This guarantees that your performer will be the best in the business - sounding great, looking great, and being interactive and highly watchable.

Last minute bookings.
We can take bookings at a very last minute situation - especially if you are based near our head office, in Eastbourne, East Sussex. We can be there for all those times you might be let down by other performers - and with a database of singers, even if your booked performer falls ill, we can call in an understudy within minutes, or adapt our shows to fit the new casting situation. So you have nothing to worry about.

Professional, creative, personal.
Our creative team are young, fresh, experienced and knowledgeable - and above all, they are passionate about revolutionising care home entertainment. Our choreographer can create shows which bring the West End to the living room, and our wardrobe department are expert at sourcing, or making, eye catching, yet suitable costumes for the audience type. Our creative directors choose songs which are within the criteria, but push the boundaries a little bit more, opening residents up to new experiences, or songs which they may have heard, but not for a very long time.

Overall, Full Beam Productions want to make a difference. There is nothing more rewarding for us, than to see residents who may seem not in the room at all, as their eyes light up, and their toes start tapping to a piece of music. We understand the importance of our role in the care home environment, and we understand that those residents, in that moment, are the most important people in the room. Triggering the grey matter, and those deep rooted memories, inside the brains of those suffering with dementia, is the most meaningful part of our job, and we will continue to strive towards changing the path which entertainment is taking, to give it a fresh outlook, at an achievable rate, which is accessible to care homes nationwide.
The Full Beam Team care for your residents.

Trust in Full Beam Productions, to give your residents the entertainment which they deserve.

What's Happening

By Natalie Bradshaw 10 Oct, 2017
Eastbourne is playing host to a BRAND NEW singing competition!

We need audience members for Shine Bright Tonight, which is happening on 15th November at TJ's Nightclub, Eastbourne! With six artists from the local area battling it out in front of our panel of three judges, it's set to be an amazing night - with a cash prize up for grabs for the lucky winner!

For the audience, it's a night to remember, filled with excellent music from hand selected young performers. You never know, you could be watching a future star! You'll get to hear feedback from our judges, including industry professionals and representatives from BBC, and mingle with owners of some of the biggest businesses in town.

On arrival, there's a complimentary drink, and then to sweeten the deal, all money from the bar on the night goes to Children In Need - supporting an amazing cause!

This is not a night to be missed, but tickets are limited - so make sure you visit the website to purchase tickets now!

See you there!
By Natalie Bradshaw 25 Aug, 2017
Once again, we have compiled a newsletter , so you can see what we are up to!
By Natalie Bradshaw 08 Aug, 2017
With August well and truly underway, we've been taking our Summer Fiesta show to care homes in Sussex. With a few more to go, we look at some of the highlights so far.
By Natalie Bradshaw 16 Jul, 2017
Natalie Bradshaw takes the time to think about the residents who have been with us from the beginning, who are sadly no longer here.
By Natalie Bradshaw 08 Jun, 2017
When myself and Jim decided to approach care homes with activities and entertainment, it was new territory to us both. We had worked hard, for many years, as members of teams at resorts worldwide - working our way up from Animation to Team Leader, to Management - and so we had a good idea as to how to put together performances targeted at certain audience types, but care homes presented a whole new range of obstacles to overcome.

We have been providing activities now for nearly two years, and working closely with some of the biggest care home providers in the UK has certainly helped to shape our business, performers, and the shows we put together - and now, we are pushing forward with putting Full Beam Productions at the head of a new era of care home entertainment; one which comes away from war time classics, and sleepy songs, and instead creates excitement, smiles, laughter and fun for that short hour in which we are invited into the lives of those being cared for.

It's a very rewarding business to be in, but it's also one which needs to be done correctly for it to be effective. Today, I'm breaking down exactly how Full Beam Productions works, and how our approach puts a refreshing new spin on activities, and hopefully takes a step towards shaping the future of entertainment in a care home environment.
By Natalie Bradshaw 07 Jun, 2017
Hello, and welcome to our very first Wednesday Wardrobe!

Each week we will be bringing you a different blog post, or video, or both (!), taking you backstage and behind the scenes of our wardrobe department, as we prepare for each of our upcoming shows. Learn with our step by step videos how to create our props and costumes - or follow our tips for how to find the best bargains for specific dance numbers and performances.

We really hope that you find our new blogs interesting and informative - and if you think of anything that you would like to see us talking about, let us know by commenting below! Don't forget to let us know if you try to make your own version of our feature each week too!
By Natalie Bradshaw 28 Mar, 2017
In June 2016, Full Beam Productions owners, Natalie Bradshaw & Jim Pyle, were introduced to Nicole Allen - a girl with so much energy, and so much enthusiasm for life, despite suffering from the illness cystic fibrosis.

Nicole travelled around all of the care home performances, and 14 consecutive showings of Miss V & The Beamers throughout Summer, with the company, and the creative team were quick to cast her as the lead role in the James Penguin: Christmas Impossible  pantomime that December too - there was nobody better for the tap dancing, Agent P role!

As Jim & Natalie sat down at the end of 2016, to discuss which charity should be chosen for fundraising the next year, it seemed like there was no other option as good as this one - raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust was the first, and final decision.

"Nicole was inspirational throughout the tour - she had completed a month away from home before coming to the final rehearsal, and hitting the road for 14 consecutive shows. She could have told us that it was too much, that she was tired - but she persevered until the very end, and continues to do so even now. She's a true member of the Full Beam Team, and we want to help her - and supporting this charity does exactly that."
By Natalie Bradshaw 09 Mar, 2017
Jim Pyle discusses the history of swing music, plus how to choose between tribute artists, vocal groups, or a spectacle which is not to be missed.
By Natalie Bradshaw 27 Dec, 2016
2016 has been a whilrlwind year for Full Beam Productions. We sat down this weekend, whilst enjoying a few festive days off, and managed to flick through some of our old photos and videos, from the past year, and we are amazed by how far our little company has come in such a short space of time. So we thought we would make a video, to show you how great it has been, and to say thank you for being there, every step of the way!
By Natalie Bradshaw 14 Nov, 2016
Edited February 2017.
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