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Christmas comes early as patients cook cakes for therapy

Cake BakingMaking Christmas cakes is not only fun, but it is proving to be good therapy for people at The Retreat, a specialist mental health provider in York.

A number of Christmas cakes have been cooked up in the last few weeks by patients in Older People’s Service at The Retreat to both celebrate the festive season, and help improve their mental health.

The Retreat’s Senior Occupational Therapists Maureen Horsley and Joyce Latimer know how important baking is in helping people with their recovery.

Maureen explained:

“We get so much positive feedback from people during home cooking group sessions. They reminisce about how they used to bake when they were young and there is the opportunity for social interaction and chat. They also practice many skills, use their senses and benefit from the change in environment when we go into our kitchen, which is specially designed to both accommodate their physical difficulties and be homely.

“We also see people in a different light when they are baking as it often inspires different conversation which is therapeutic in itself. The most rewarding part is the huge sense of achievement which people get when they enjoy what they have made and share it with others.”

The Retreat is a specialist mental health provider, working with the NHS to provide care for people with complex and challenging needs.

The Retreat’s older people’s service provides specialist care to people with challenging behaviour and complex needs, such as dementia or psychosis. Some people may have a background of long term mental illness or cognitive impairment.  The service upholds The Retreat’s historic values of traditional, but modern care that values the individuality and uniqueness of every person.

The Retreat’s clinical service manager Chris Smith said: “Our model of working is founded on a bio-psychosocial approach to care, focusing on the individual’s unique personal and interpersonal strengths. We recognise that many of our patients have suffered past traumatic life events, requiring input and support from healthcare professionals. Our aim is, therefore, to understand and resolve challenging behaviours and empower our patients to rediscover their feelings of wellbeing and personal integrity that they need and deserve in later life.”