Interview: Jan Millward

The latest instalment in our activity coordinator interviews, this month: Jan Millward, The Old Vicarage, Sherborne

Jan has worked in care for the last 12 years, and prior to that worked in agriculture. Her care home, The Old Vicarage Care Home in Dorset, was awarded an outstanding rating by the CQC this year. She lives on a farm with her husband Colin. She says: “Working in care was a leap of faith. I was looking for work and someone suggested contacting the Old Vicarage. It was something I had never considered before, but I loved it from day one and I continue to get huge job satisfaction. I feel very privileged to, through my job role, change people’s lives around and bring them joy, happiness and respect.” Jan also write poetry, which she started after a tricky day at work and more bad press for care homes in the news, and says: “I just wanted to bring a little balance and show that not all homes are bad!” She has now published four books of poetry, and you can read her rhymes here.

The best thing about my job is… Making a difference to so many individuals every day. I love being able to reconnect with our residents and give them back a purpose in life. Tofind a person who is lost in a fog of dementia and bring them back, even for a few precious minutes is priceless.

The hardest thing about my job is… Saying goodbye. Naturally it is difficult to lose someone that you have grown to know and respect, although I always remind myself of how we as a team have made their twilight years happy, joyful and fulfilling. Don’t mention the paperwork, that can be frustrating as it eats into time that could be spent with a resident.

I can’t get through the day without… my diary and a list of notes! I am constantly being asked to do little jobs, such as finding out an address or taking a skirt to be mended. I would be lost without it!

I tend to do most of my planning…over lunch, when the rest of the staff are in the staff room, I am upstairs with a cup of tea and a sandwich, planning and emailing. Some of it does get done at home, just so I can keep everything running smoothly!

“The best time of the week is…during the activity that I am running! It gives me a real buzz to see it all come to fruition!”

The busiest time of the week is…the morning rounds. I aim to see everyone to tell them what is happening and what I have been up to. I often get held up by someone who might be feeling a bit low or lonely and I can never rush them.

I use The Daily Sparkle for… A weekly discussion group. It gives us all something to look forward to and promotes conversation and memories.

Our residents love The Daily Sparkle because… It jolts memories and is something they can discuss with everyone.

My top tip for busy activities co-ordinators is… Do the NAPA level 3 course. It really helped me streamline my paperwork effectively. Oh and learn how to work with carers rather than against them. Most carers will help if you have a cute animal, a young good looking entertainer or free food!