Work/Life: A Day in the Life of an Activity Coordinator

Jacqui Beyer has worked at Nightingale, a Jewish home in London for 170 older people, for 18 years, having come to Nightingale as administration support in a job that she thought would be short term.  As an artist she has had a variety of occupations over her career, and is now the activity team leader, working alongside four other activity coordinators and five part-time activity leads. She says: "I’ve found working with our residents the most rewarding position I’ve ever had; encouraging and supporting people to do activities they haven’t tried before, visiting familiar and new places together, as well as sharing the simple pleasures and trials of day to day life. It is a privilege to get to know so many people from such diverse backgrounds."

The best thing about my job is…the time with the residents and feeling their trust in me.

The hardest thing about my job is…seeing people who become distressed because of their dementia.

I can’t get through the day without…coffee and tea!

I tend to do most of my planning…I try to put planning time into my diary, but the end of the day, when others have gone home is often the most productive planning time.

The best time of the week is…a moment when you gain a resident’s trust, when you make someone laugh, when someone comes on an outing for the first time, or just a walk in the garden with a resident – it can happen anytime and can be just a moment, but a really significant one. It’s important to live in the moment and notice the little things that make our day.

It’s the spontaneous engagement that can be most rewarding - so leave time in your week to just be with residents, to chat, to observe and see where it leads.

The busiest time of the week is…Friday afternoon when I’m trying to tie up all the loose ends so that I can start the next week having put everything in place.Sometimes it feels like I’m chasing my tail!

I use The Daily Sparkle for…we have the Weekly Sparkle and I encourage our care team to read this with the residents to start conversations. I also use it when leading spontaneous gatherings to get the conversation going. I also leave it out for anyone to pick up when they want.

Our residents love The Daily Sparkle because…it taps into their memories. The format is easy to read and one of our residents loves to read it aloud to others.

My top tip for busy activities co-ordinators is… organised activities are what people expect from us, but it’s the spontaneous engagement that can be most rewarding - so leave time in your week to just be with residents, to chat, to observe and see where it leads.

If you'd like to take part in our monthly column please email emma@dailysparkle.co.uk.