As I travel the UK visiting care homes, I frequently meet Activities Coordinators who tell me they run events without the support of their colleagues and feel like a lone worker rather than a member of a powerful dynamic team.
I recently met June, one such Activity Coordinator, on the first day of a Vibrant Communities programme. Newly appointed, she was buzzing with fantastic bold ideas and enthusiasm, but frustrated by how things were going in practice due to the lack of support from her colleagues. She shared this challenge with the group who formed the homes Vibrant Communities Project Team. We discussed ways to support residents to attend the event being held that afternoon and tried a few out .........
The result - the event was well attended and staff were overjoyed to see residents, who don’t usually come to events, chatting with others and getting stuck in! Staff on the Vibrant Communities Project Team saw the positive impact attending the event had on residents.
At the end of the day, Harriet, the Domestic Manager reflected, “Activities are the most important thing here – otherwise they are staring at the walls, that would make me depressed”.
Harriet agreed with the June that she would assign domestic assistants to support residents to get to events so that people didn’t miss out. June told her manager, “Staff saw how it is to be me – Harriet has offered to get her staff to help me. She can see how important it is for people to get involved".
I returned two weeks later and was pleased to hear that domestic staff had indeed been supporting people to attend events, impacting positively on the number of people attending overall. The support of colleagues had allowed June be present to greet people as they arrived as opposed to having to run around the building in an effort (single handedly) to get as many people to the event as possible.
The Vibrant Communities Programme provides opportunities for staff from all over the home to get involved in activities: to see the impact they have on residents happiness and to better understand the barriers to resident participation. It's an incredible prompt for staff to create their own solutions to these challenges.