Ladder to the Moon believes that providing meaningful occupation for everyone living in care requires a whole service approach. Supporting this goal, I often hear about the challenge of enrolling and engaging colleagues. Staff are “not up for it,” “don’t see it as their job,” “task orientated,” “resistant.” When opinions such as these are first raised in a room on a Development Day, I often turn from the speaker to other participants and ask if this resonates. Usually this enquiry is met with assenting murmurs, even shouts.
This was exactly what happened in a room in Kings Lynn on our Outstanding Activities programme six months ago. Aspiring life enrichment Leaders from three Norse Care homes had been on Ladder to the Moon’s Outstanding Activities programme for four months at the time. They were all showing tenacity in the face of different challenges in the workplace, but could all relate to resistance and cynicism from staff.
Cut to six months later. The Outstanding Activities programme has inspired staff engagement, a tye-dying craze, home calendars, more trips out, visits to each other’s homes, staff interest, connections, contribution (including from residents who usually don’t), pantos, discoveries, tea ceremonies.
One home was sharing the good news of two members of staff expressing interest in activities provision, then went on to reflect that despite these seedlings of engagement, they are still facing resistance from staff. I turn to the room and ask if this resonates…
….... and I am faced with a thrilling silence.
Not this time! No, resistance from staff no longer resonated with the other two homes. Staff from High Haven reflected on being in "a very different place than six months ago: the culture of expectation has changed and staff have accepted that the new expectations around social engagement are here to stay."
When they joined the programme, there were many staff vacancies, team leaders back in the home were “not enthused” and one participant expressed no hope for change from her colleagues. Change, as it happened, was possible. It happened in less than a year. Given Creative Leadership, resistance can change to expectation.