Here we introduce Carla Siwicki, who has worked as an activities leader at Ravenhurst Residential Care Home in Stourport on Severn for the last year.
She explains what attracted her to the role in the first place and talks us through a typical day in the life of an activities leader.
Carla was a care assistant at Ravenhurst for three years before she took a leap of faith and went for something completely different. She says: “I had always looked at the activities role and thought I would love to do it, so when the chance arose I grabbed it.”
Talking about the most rewarding part of her job she simply says: “Seeing the residents enjoying themselves and smiling. Also when they try something they normally wouldn’t try and I can see on their face the sense of achievement. It makes my job worthwhile.”
Carla explains that while no two days are the same, there are certain things her residents do enjoy doing each day.
“At the beginning of the day I head to the main lounge to set up the morning activity, it could be anything from arts and crafts to painting, baking or games. The ladies also enjoy weekly manicures and sometimes I join residents at breakfast or have a natter preparing fruit for a snack later.
“When the care team finish the early morning duties they come and join in the fun as well, which the residents really enjoy. After lunch everyone can take part in another activity if they wish.”
Carla likes to be as imaginative as possible when organising activities and events for her residents and their loved ones. One of the most memorable to date was a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, where all of the team dressed as characters from Alice in Wonderland and she was the Cheshire Cat! She made up long tables filled with cakes and biscuits and invited people from the community along to join in the fun.
She says: “There were games, music and the lounge was so full of people you could hardly move! It was a great day.”
Talking about which activities have made her residents smile the most she says: “I organised a few sessions of ‘walking football.’ It was so much fun, there was laughter all round. The gentlemen loved it, as it took them back to their youth and even the ladies got stuck in.”
Speaking about what qualities are important for anyone considering becoming an activities leader she says: “To be able to encourage and motivate the residents in a fun and light-hearted way and to endeavour to be inclusive.
“You have to recognise that not everyone will want to take part in an activity and some may get just as much enjoyment watching what is going on.”
We asked Carla what personal attributes are important to the role, she adds: “You have to be warm and approachable. Also determined and know what you want to achieve and go for it whatever problems may arise, whether planning an ‘out of the ordinary’ event or pursuing a certain activity to ensure the resident it is aimed for gets everything you had hoped out of it.”
Carla says that ultimately, you have to be creative. “You’ve got to be constantly looking for new ideas. I think it helps to bounce ideas off others, whether it be with care staff, people at other homes, friends or family. Someone may give you an idea you might not have thought about before or help you to adapt an activity around your residents. Obviously talking to your residents and looking into their life history will help when trying to find out what they enjoy doing.”