FAMILIES went online to share memories of loved ones who have died at care homes across the south in the past year.

Colten Care’s annual Celebration of Life is usually an opportunity for people including current residents and staff to get together in person and reminisce about those who have passed away.

But with Covid restrictions ruling out face-to-face gatherings this year, team members decided to hold an alternative-style event.

They invited families and friends of the residents to join online meetings and share personal memories.

Participants were encouraged to describe their loved ones in short email messages. Staff transcribed them on to cards which they tied to "memory trees" in the homes’ foyers and gardens.

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St Catherine's View, a dementia care home in Winchester, was one of the sites that took part.

Manager Vanda Baker said: “Although we couldn’t meet in person with families this year, we still wanted to give everyone the opportunity to reflect and reminisce.

"As the name suggests, Celebration of Life is all about remembering the individuality of residents we've had the privilege of knowing. It's an ideal chance to celebrate the joy, laughter and experiences of those who came to stay with us.”

Linden House in Lymington was one of the other homes that took part.

Sally Smith leads Colten Care’s end-of-life care strategy.

She said: "We didn’t want the restrictions to stop our annual Celebration of Life event which has been held every year since 2017.

"It always proves to be a precious and heartfelt experience for those taking part.

"We strongly believe that good end of life care should extend to supporting relatives and friends whose loved ones have died.”

Colten Care owns and runs 21 care homes in Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and Sussex, all of which are registered to provide nursing care.