Work/Life: The View from the A/Cs Desk

Every month we meet an activities co-ordinator to share the ins and out and highs and lows of their job, from planning schedules to the coffee run.

This month… Robyn Taylor, Avery Lodge Care Home, Grantham

Robyn has worked at Avery Lodge for six years. She previously studied a BTEC in art and design, did a foundation degree in design crafts and an AS Level in Textiles. She has always been interested in art, and says she loves being able to now implement this onto the calendar of events at Avery Lodge. "I absolutely love my activity role, and can’t imagine being anywhere else," she says.

The best thing about my job is…Being able to spend every day with the residents making them smile and knowing I have had an impact in their lives; and getting praise from the residents and their families for the things we do for them. I also love organizing things they want to do that they thought they wouldn’t be able to when moving into a care home. The most heart-warming moment is when a resident who suffers with dementia remembers your name.

The hardest thing about my job is…Trying to motivate other staff members and departments to support and recognise how important activities are. They are not always just a ‘game’ or an event, they are meaningful to each individual and can have an overwhelming impact to the individual’s day. Also,it can be a challenge trying to express that the social wellbeing of the residents isn’t just for the activity department and getting teams to recognise that you are doing things for the benefit of the residents and improving their lives. After lots of persistence and support by the manager this is starting to improve, and we are now discussing how every day is filled with activity!

Activities are not always just a ‘game’ or an ‘event’, they are meaningful to each individual and can have an overwhelming impact to the individual’s day.

I can’t get through the day without…People being positive. Positivity spreads and when you are positive and happy so are the residents.

I tend to do most of my planning…Every Monday, I have a paperwork day once a week. This is where I can design my monthly calendar of events, newsletters. Planning different things that haven’t happened in the home before, as well as the regular activities that the residents really love. It's good to have time to link-build in the community too, which then brings new and exciting opportunities into the home.

The best time of the week is…Every day is completely different. It is nice and relaxed at weekends, and lots more family members come in and join their loved ones in activities or trips. I love going on trips with the residents to different places, they become a different person when out of the home. We go out on trips about three times a week, and we encourage families to get involved too. Evening activities are also really enjoyable, as the residents appreciate a change of routine.

The busiest time of the week is…The last day of the month when I have to send all my QIS off and make sure everything is completed from the last month and everything ready for the month ahead. 

We also try to encourage the staff to use The Sparkles on a daily basis.

I use The Daily Sparkle for…Reminiscence! The residents really love talking about the past. I find this helps both residents who have dementia, as well as our residential residents. Our reception team really support this, and they will print the Sparkle off and leave it out on reception which helps family members who may struggle with what to talk about with their loved ones. We also try to encourage the staff to use these daily. I save all the printed Sparkles to go into rummage boxes and scrap books. I add the activity idea sheets to a folder for the care staff to use as inspiration for the afternoon activities.  

Our residents love The Daily Sparkle because…It provides a topic to discuss which they might not have thought about. It brings back good memories and they get to hear their friends' experiences of life.  I learn so much from the stories that are in the articles.

My top tip for busy activities co-ordinators is…Have regular meetings with the manager, so they can support you and advise you. Be passionate about what you do and try everything to see if it works, and keep trying. If you can, get the other staff on-board to support you and the residents in the role of planning and delivering activities. Always work as hard as you can so you can continually improve the life’s of the residents.

I learn so much from the stories that are in The Daily Sparkles.