Gemma Smith (The Grange, Forest Healthcare) was recently announced the summer winner of our Evidence of Outstanding Activities competition.
Her entry was detailed and well written and clearly demonstrated the transformative connectivity, inclusion and engagement - both staff and residents - achieved through her skilful actions.
Homes participating in the Outstanding Activities programme receive a creative resource box every month to support innovative approaches to person-centred activity.
This is her story:
On receipt of a new creative resource box, this month "the Marvellous Motoring Map box" Gemma roused interest and curiosity by purposely opening the box in front of residents, who had sleepily gathered in the lounge (‘it was just after dinner and most residents had taken a little nap’). She took the contents to each resident, allowing them the opportunity to ‘handle the contents, ask questions and make suggestions on what to do’; she pinned the large map of the UK to a mobile board, so that everyone could clearly see and had access to it. She moved around the room, prompting conversation by asking residents open questions about their favourite holiday destinations, where they had travelled and worked and lived; and to name and tell stories about places that were emotionally significant for them.
It had a profound effect ......
‘It was absolutely fascinating for us as staff to hear the stories that resulted from the conversation…Mary told the group where she was born and where she had raised her family. She even told us about her honeymoon. Teresa spoke about family holidays. We had a new resident with us that day and she opened up and shared things about her life with the group. She told us about places she had been and day trips out with her children... Residents started to chat about places they knew and places that they had in common.’
For each place mentioned, a pin was placed upon the map. Gemma repeated the same process the following day, visiting residents in their rooms and discussing that places that are meaningful to them. Residents remained interested, engaged and inspired:
‘Jean suggested that we got another map but this time of the world to show places that they had been abroad and also to highlight where some of our staff originated from. Catherine then suggested that we got some string and linked the points on our world map all centralising on where we are now.’
The home now proudly displays the map on a permanent basis and continues to use it to engage and connect with residents. ‘It has helped new residents feel at home with us and feel relaxed [and] helped us all get to know each other a little better and discover things about each other we didn’t know.’
Gemma’s transformed the home environment from quiet and soporific, to one of vibrancy. Her creativity enabled the community to find value in what they were doing and to make unexpected discoveries. Gemma’s plans on upscaling the activity to include a world map and to link all the points together to show where all the staff and residents at The Grange have come from also demonstrates the commendable ability of continuing to create in response to emerging value; and will likely lead to ongoing transformation, community fostering and engagement for those at risk of isolation. We can’t wait to see it!