Tracy Leese, one of our regular activity coordinator columnists, talks about how she tries to balance her passion for what she does, with some of the challenges facing activity coordinators each day…
Coming into care wasn’t something that had been expected of me nor was it something that had been at the forefront of my mind. My first step into care was with people suffering from dementia, and that is where I have stayed, becoming more and more passionate about it.
Everyone, it would seem, has an idea about how activities should be run, and it often feels like everyone else knows how to do the job better than what we, as activity coordinators, are doing. What people often fail to see though, is all the planning, paperwork, phone calls and fundraising we have to do. Amongst this we are meant to entertain residents individually, as well as organising group events and activities.
I feel I may be one of the lucky ones out there. I have a manager who – and I would go on the record as saying this – is probably the best manager I have ever worked for. She is very supportive, encourages all my ideas and really lets me run with them. When I have my struggles too, she is there to guide me and support me.
One of my biggest obstacles is getting the other staff involved in my vision of what I want to achieve. Recently, we have been developing a key worker system, which we tweaked from a structure that was already in place, to ensure that the key workers were more involved in the one-to-one activity side of things. And, while some have shown little interest in getting involved, a few of our carers have really taken this on board and have enjoyed spending time with their allocated resident, which has been great to see.
The same issue, though, replicates itself sometimes during group sessions – it’s a great time for carers to do something different with residents, but it also often a time when everyone seems determined to do whatever they can to avoid joining in! This was highlighted recently, when we were finalising our Halloween celebrations. We asked all the staff to dress up – nothing over the top – just a little fun gesture to make the day different from other days. It was lovely to hear most of the care team getting excited and asking what to wear, but there were a couple of team members who said they didn’t want to dress up, and took more formal measures to ensure they didn’t have to.
Of course, I understand some people don’t want to, or find it hard to, think of a simple costume to wear, but it is a shame that not everyone in a care home can see just how important their contribution is. We all work so hard to try and bring a little bit of happiness to our residents. This month we’ve organised Zoo Lab, therapy ponies, ladies afternoon tea, boys brunch club and a church service in our home, amongst plenty of other entertainment, and I’ve still managed to take a few residents out on activities and to events. It is sometimes just so frustrating that some people don’t share the same vision. And it makes me question why some people go into ‘care’, if they don’t really, actually, seem to care.
Tracy Leese is an activities coordinator at Wrenbury Care home, where she has worked for a year. She has nine years’ experience working in care and has a Level 3 in Adult Social Care. Prior to working in care, she gained a BA honours in Art Film and Journalism, but came to the care industry after a period of time caring for her mother while she was receiving treatment for cancer.