Robyn Taylor, one of our regular activity coordinator columnists, talks about how you can be part of a drive to improve staff morale, which helps immeasurably with your residents’ sense of wellbeing too…
Staff morale in a care home should be a priority. If the team are happy and positive, that feeds back to the residents. Smiling is infectious. If you’re happy, cheerful, bubbly and have the mindset that you want to be there, that shows. However, on the other hand, if you are in the role of an activity coordinator (or any other role) just because it is a job, and you don’t actually want to be there, that also shows!
Everyone should have the same mindset and the same drive. If the whole team has the same understanding, can work together without disagreements and don’t feel burned out, the whole atmosphere of a workplace can change.
Of course, no one has perfect days all the time. But, even though you may have problems at home, you can’t let it impact the residents. They rely on you to promote happiness. Equally, if you’re short staffed, you shouldn’t complain in front of relatives and residents about it, as that will make them nervous, thinking they are not in a capable environment.
What can you do to help staff feel like they belong and want to be a part of the team?
- Do some team building to promote staff wellbeing.
- Organise family fun days for residents and staff.
- Swap roles for short periods of time.
- Organise a social gathering outside of work hours.
- Set team competitions.
The more things that are a change from the mundane day-to-day tasks, the more the spirits of the team will lift. People need to feel valued, a person that feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected of them. Even though you may feel like it is the boss’s job to praise people, what is stopping you from doing it? Express your gratitude to someone when they help you, if you think someone has gone above and beyond, or if someone is always smiling. Take them to one side and tell them how special their contribution is and how much you value it. Could you even nominate them for employee of the month, or ask to write a thank you in the newsletter? There are lots of little things you can do to show someone that they are cherished in their role.
Learning from Others
I have been lucky enough to work alongside two fantastic activity coordinators, who have inspired me every day. I worked as an assistant for Helen Brown who has always been driven and passionate about everything! She has taught me to have a positive outlook on life, and to direct that into delivering and planning activities to the best of my ability. She has shown me that even if you have a bad day, there are usually more positives than negatives, and you are in a role that is truly benefiting the lives of others. I think of it like people, not profit. Helen has always shown support and kindness, putting everyone before herself. If I am ever in a difficult situation, I always think, “What would Helen do?”.
I have also had the delight of working as a coordinator with Sam Tasker in my team. Sam is the kind of person who makes a room light up when he walks into it. He is energetic, charming and could keep a whole room engaged, while still making each individual feel important. There is always a lot of paperwork and planning to be done in this role, but Sam showed me that the residents would always come first, and that no matter what he was doing, he would always stop and help anyone who needed it. Sam would lift the spirits of the staff and relatives with his banter and warmth. However, even with his bravado, he had a sensitive side which showed compassion and empathy at all the right times. My strengths were his weaknesses and vice versa, and like everyone said, we made a good team!
You spend more time with your work colleagues and residents than you do with family and friends, so it is important you love what you do and love the people you work alongside. Even when life changes and you move onto different ventures, your old work colleagues can become great friends.
Robyn Taylor has worked as an activity coordinator in Lincolnshire for the last nine years. She recently won the East Midlands ‘Putting People First Award’ for the care home she works in. She has always been passionate about enabling residents to continue with the things they love the most, and working with relatives and the community to ensure new and exciting opportunities are available.