Amy Roberts (Maidstone Care Centre, RCH) recently won the autumn edition of our Evidence of Outstanding Activities Competition. Here is her story:
Amy initially observed that in her home’s environment ‘residents and staff become involved in activities in small numbers and often require a great deal of encouragement…[the creative resource] boxes [provided to participants of Ladder’s Outstanding Activities programme] are used by a small number of residents with not a lot of involvement from staff.’
She actively sought to change this dynamic and to increase staff enrolment and engagement. The ‘1960s Fashion Show’ box provides support and materials for participating homes to create their own 60s items and to hold their own fashion show. Amy creatively introduced a competitive element to excite motivation: Maidstone Care Centre’s suite would compete and a trophy awarded to the floor with the best costumes!
Amy provided support, help and ideas and soon attitudes and intentions began to shift: ‘…once staff knew it was a competition, they were soon working on their pieces for the show…secret gatherings [were] taking place between staff and residents…whilst not allowing other floors to ‘pinch ideas’, leading to much good-natured banter.’
Subsequent, knock-on activities were enjoyed, giving further time for staff and residents to interact creatively: “[We also] helped the residents with some tie dying of scarves and t-shirts, with them showing the ‘youngsters’ how it should be done.”
On the day of the fashion show, the opportunity to further extend the impact of the event saw wider community involvement, with residents from Kesson House (another RCH home) invited to attend and act as impartial judges!
“We really took a step back to the 1960s. The lounge underwent a magical transformation: there was a catwalk with a backdrop, lights, music, a judges’ table, a compère and rows of audience seating.
“The models entered wearing a combination of outfits reflecting the chosen era. Margaret donned long boots, headband and wig, whilst Albert was unrecognisable in his long purple wig, flared trousers and sunglasses. Other residents wore mini dresses made from chequered tablecloths and tie-dyed scarves.
“They took to the catwalk accompanied by 1960’s music, loud applause and cheering…the trophy was awarded to the Rochester Suite…food was then served followed by an entertained singing 1960s classics, leading to further singing and dancing.”
Whole community events such as these allow not only for greater feelings of inclusion and connection between staff and residents, but also within families. Margaret and her family had “taken great pleasure in creating their own tie-dyed fabric shopping bags,” and, upon seeing her mother modelling, Linda, Margaret’s daughter, commented, “I would never have thought when choosing a care home for my mum that something like this would happen and my mum would be centre stage.”
Amy’s openness in allowing residents planning, input and consultation into how the show was presented further increased their responsiveness: “The show felt like theirs.” And by creating such a positive and welcoming environment and occasion, she was able, through the fashion show, to reach individuals previously at risk of isolation:
“Vera, who spends most of her time in bed, coming out of her room possible twice a day for half an hour... Her face! She was dancing, singing, delighted.”
“Resident Sylvia was adamant that she didn’t want to take part, but when it came for the judges to retire and make their decision, she called out “What about me?” - put a hat on and began dancing!” Amy, Activities Leader.
“I loved it. I went to sleep smiling. I haven’t done that in ages.” Sylvia, resident.
Events such as these also provide the opportunity for enduring, sustained impact. Amy observes: “Since the Fashion Show we have seen increased interaction between staff and residents with regards to activities. The Fashion Show box and fashion show has created a greater interest in the Ladder to the Moon boxes with more and more residents and staff asking about future Ladder to the Moon boxes.”
There is a skill to recognising where this opportunity lies and how best to capitalise on it. Amy hopes to further excite the memory of those who participated and record and reinforce what the home achieved – and indeed can achieve – with a whole community approach. They are doing this by “creating a montage of the photos to remember the day by.”
Great job Amy and to all those involved; and congratulations to the Albert and Rochester Suite for winning the fashion show trophy!