I often arrive early at work, hoping to get ahead with admin, but as soon as I walk through the door and see the residents eating breakfast all my well-intentioned plans tend to go out of the window. Why? Because I’m often greeted with big smiles and although they might call me by someone else’s name, I know their greeting is meant for me. I can’t just walk on by and ignore them.
Before I know it, that ‘catching up ‘time has gone, and I still haven’t taken my coat off, but I have made contact with several residents who seem to have benefited from our chit chat and some over enthusiastic morning singing!
Once I’ve finally ditched the coat, I can start to plan the day’s activities from the programme that is displayed for everyone to see.
Today I start by setting up the activities in the lounge, as I know that this is a great area for morning activities. The idea is to be able to adapt to what is required and ensure that I don’t have to keep walking back and forth for equipment. We start with some soft music playing via the iPad which means I can cater for all the resident’s musical preferences. There’s also some newspapers scattered on coffee tables to provide chit chat if desired. I tend to know which residents will be the first to arrive so having a playlist on hand that they recognise can be both meaningful and reassuring at the same time.
Empathy dolls and companion pets are placed around the lounge as these are another way to reduce any anxieties or upset before a session starts and can enable positive interaction throughout the activity.
I then attend our daily stand up meeting which usually lasts no longer than 10 minutes but is a great way to inform other key members of staff what fun and support is on offer with regards to activities.
When I return to the lounge I find that the items left around and the music that is playing are proving popular. I turn up the music slightly and watch those who usually observe starting to tap their feet and click their fingers. Before we know it, one gent has discovered the basket of musical instruments by the side of the rummage chest and is handing them out. A staff member or two join us and we move into a full rendition of ‘oh what a beautiful morning!’ Streamers wave side to side, arms stretch high and legs march to the music, and with all the staff and resident participating, my work here is done.
As I enter the activities room I come across a man who appears quite anxious and upset. It becomes evident that he’s feeling particularly alone and is in need of a chat. We have a cup of tea and talk about the fire service. After all, he was a well-respected senior divisional officer in the service and has many of stories to tell… Afterwards, I’m pleased that this meaningful conversation seems to have boosted his mood.
A change of activity is required after lunch, many residents are around today, and the home is busy. I set up some fibre optics, light projections, soothing smells, and sounds of the ocean and the environment becomes relaxed and calm. Residents are really enjoying the smell pots from the seaside box and the twiddle muffs are popular with both men and women.
After evaluating today’s activities and printing out some photographs it’s time to go and say hi to a resident who prefers not to participate in group activities. This particular person is in the later stages of dementia and wants to see a member of the Christian faith. With this arranged, I arrive and hold his hand. Only a few words are spoken.
After 11 years in this job, I think I have one of the most rewarding roles in the care sector.