Work/Life: A day in the life of an activity coordinator

Jade, all dressed up for Ladies Day at the carehome

Jade, all dressed up for Ladies Day at the carehome

Jade Sheridan
Team R&L Lead, Avalon Court, Coventry

Jade Sheridan is the lead of a team of five Recreation and Leisure coordinators at Avalon Court Care Home in Coventry, where she has been for one year. Previously, Jade studied at the University of Falmouth, and then worked as a hotel manager in the Lake District. Owned by Avery Healthcare, Avalon Court Care Home is very keen on promoting well-being, and Jade and her team work hard to run a varied activities programme. They have just set up a home choir for residents and local people to join, have a monthly quiz that is open to the public, regular open days and daily outings on the home minibus, as well as exercise classes six days a week, an art club, gardening, poetry writing and more. Jade says: "Our new choir has been a total success. Our new choir has been a total success. To see residents with dementia, sing loud and proud without looking at the song sheet, and recite a song from memory, or to hear them talk about it with their friends over dinner - this is one of the best feelings I could ask for in a job."

The best thing about my job is…working with a resident and knowing that I have brightened their day in some way. It is so rewarding knowing that you have a direct impact on someone’s life, in such a positive way. Arts and crafts with the residents is a great outlet for them to express themselves. Some of our residents are artists and can find it hard to deal with the issues with aging and losing different abilities. I love to sit with them and find new ways to be creative and show them that they can still be just as magnificent but in a new and exciting way. 

The hardest thing about my job is…when a resident passes away. It never gets easier. We get to know all the resident’s families very well too, so after they lose a loved one, it is nice to bring comfort to them and let them know that their family member was special.

Our new choir has been a total success. To see residents with dementia, sing loud and proud without looking at the song sheet, and recite a song from memory, or to hear them talk about it with their friends over dinner - this is one of the best feelings I could ask for in a job."

I love to sit with them and find new ways to be creative and show them that they can still be just as magnificent but in a new and exciting way.

I can’t get through the day without…the team. I know it might sound like a cliché, but we really do all support each other. The R&L team work together to think of new ideas for lots of different activities that we run, and everyone is willing to go that extra mile for the residents, but the whole team at Avalon Court - from the home manager to the housekeeping team, maintenance and all the carers - are all really proactive with putting the residents well-being first.

I tend to do most of my planning… all the time! I try to set aside a Monday for paper work and planning, but I am constantly thinking about new things to do, or ways to make the next big event better than the last. Though, sometimes, I find it can be better to just let things take their natural course and enjoy how things turn out. That being said, my diary and post it notes seems to at my side all the time.

The best time of the week is…when we go on an outing with the residents. We are lucky enough to have our own minibus and team members that will drive residents out to different places every day of the week. To go for a walk in the park and see the trees changing colour in autumn, or go to a museum, or even just to a resident’s favourite pub for a pint and chips. The stories they will tell you and memories that will be triggered. You get to see a totally different side to the residents. It can really change their mood and totally light up their day. 

The busiest time of the week is…Monday morning. Monday is paperwork time so I have lots of emails to answer and planning to do as well as documentation. I always try and pop in and say good morning to everyone if I can, and find out how their weekend has been or what they have been up to. And, Monday night is cocktail night, so we have a lot of fun in the evening...!

Some of the best days here at Avalon Court have been spent doing something spontaneous and silly, that weren’t planned at all.

Our residents love The Daily Sparkle because…it is a great tool for all. Whether it is a conversation between a grandfather and his grandson who is visiting, or we base a quiz night around it. The music is always great fun and everyone will join in for a good old sing along.

My top tip for busy activities coordinators is…to try and take things in your stride. It is very easy to get wrapped up in what you are doing, and hope that everything will run perfectly. Fact is, it probably won’t. Some of the best days here at Avalon Court have been spent doing something spontaneous and silly, that weren’t planned at all. The best thing to do is to enjoy what you do, and get along with the residents like friends. We see all of our residents as our extended family, and don’t feel like coming to work is really a job at all.