Nursing Times highlights the importance for care home residents to be engaged with meaningful care home activities and Sanctuary Care couldn’t agree more. That is why we employee people like Ann-Marie to enrich the lives of our residents and promote independence in the care home.
Ann-Marie is a popular member of staff at her care home where she works in Harwich due to her upbeat nature and her genuine drive to deliver the best possible care activities for her residents.
From animal therapy to reminiscence sessions and even granting her residents’ wildest wishes, Ann-Marie breaks the mould and always thinks outside the box, here she shares her story:
“I have worked at Don Thomson House Residential Care Home, care home in in Harwich for 18 months, originally starting as a Support Worker, I changed my roles to Activities Co-ordinator when the opportunity arose and it was such a heart-warming recruitment process as the residents were even involved with choosing who was the right person for the job, and luckily that person was me."
Providing meaningful activities for older people
Proving to deliver truly person-centred residential care and dementia care, the care home's manager Donna Ashman ensured all applicants who had reached the final rounds of interviews were the perfect fit for her residents. Each applicant was tasked with hosting their own activity there and then, with residents scoring their favourite and it’s with no surprise Ann-Marie sailed through. She continues:
"Following the recruitment process I was on cloud nine, I couldn't wait to get stuck in and I did just that. Like anyone in my role across Sanctuary Care, it is so important that I knew my residents inside and out - that I understand their amazing life histories, their likes and dislikes and their new interests since moving into Don Thomson House Residential Care Home.
I organise activities week by week, so no two weeks are the same, as well as ensuring they are planned around what are meaningful to my residents and their loved ones. For instance, if I have thought of a new activity I will always ask residents to share their thoughts or even cast their vote whether it is something they wish to take part in as it is so important they feel they still have a choice.
Or often loved ones may stress concerns that their mum no longer wanted to socialise with it being something they simply didn't have time to support with due to their own family commitments, so in this case, I will deliver one-to-one care home activities ensuring they feel safe and secure and build trust overtime, and then in time slowly integrate with group activities.
From the minute I walk into the care home, everything I do is resident-focused, enabling them to become more independent. I genuinely care for the residents and want them to be happy, feel a great sense of self-worth and continue to be engaged with care home activities and their community - it is a real passion of mine."
Favourite memory in the care home
Sharing her highlights to date, Ann-Marie said: "I could write a book with all the lovely memories I have made in just 18 months, it really is that rewarding! But my all-time favourite has to be during Christmas one year - we always have a fabulous run-up of festive celebrations and one particular intergenerational care home activity holds a special place in my heart and it was when local primary school children visited us for their annual Christmas carol performance. One particular resident Jimmy* was so overjoyed by the visit he was singing at the top of his voice along with the children, clapping and dancing too. His reaction didn’t only make me and the teachers cry but also the children were moved to tears as well – and its priceless moments like that that make me do what I do, I love residents seeing residents happy and enjoying themselves!!
Ann-Marie's top tips for future Activities Co-Ordinators
Finishing off by sharing her number one tip to other activities leaders across the care sector, Ann-Marie concluded:
"My tip is to never be shy at putting yourself out there. Be bold, do it for your residents. Call on your community. Genuinely care and you must have a passion to care and to just love and want to help people - it is that simple!"