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 life and family demands and focus on their needs”.
Our Care Home Manager, Lyndsay is there to support us in all we do! She is very approachable. You come to understand that in your small way you are making a BIG difference to people’s lives! Tomorrow is another day bringing with it new experiences – no day as a care assistant is ever the same and that’s why I love it!
“My Mum, bless her, is totally baffled – never in a million years would she have expected me to go into care work. She’s very proud of me and I’m proud of her too!”
Talented pianist and singer, Rachel joined Iffley Residential and Nursing Home as an Activities Assistant in September 2016. Visiting the care home to deliver Rachel’s well­deserved Award, Newcomer to Care Award (Highly Commended), gave me the opportunity to chat to Rachel about why she decided to work in the care sector.
“I took a gap year and volunteered to work with adults with a learning disability as a support worker. I really enjoyed supporting people. Voluntary work makes you feel really useful; you are giving your time to make a difference to someone’s life. I think it helped me decide my career pathway; I definitely wanted to pursue something in the care sector. I chatted to my school careers advisor who suggested a Degree in Social Work, which I thought would tick all my boxes. I started the course at Oxford Brookes University only to find that it just wasn’t right for me”.
Leaving after completing a year, Rachel worked in retail as a stopgap but soon realised that her passion to work with people wasn’t ever going to leave her. “I found it difficult to put my heart and soul into selling customers upmarket toiletries, it all seemed so meaningless to me”.
Rachel was inspired to work in a care home after visiting her grandmother, who has dementia and is being looked after in another care home. “Visits to my Nan, living in a care home in Worcester, gave me ‘real life’ insight into how care homes are run, and the different job roles that are available”.
“I came across my current job by searching on the Internet. I tried all kinds of search terms associated with care. I typed activities, support, care etc., and ‘Activities Assistant’ popped up. I read the description and felt it was my perfect fit. It was a part­time job, which meant I could continue my studies; I’m doing a creative writing course at Oxford University. Fortunately I got an interview and was accepted for the job.”
“The favourite part of my job is making somebody smile, if I can make a difference to people’s lives, then it makes me really happy. Understanding people, learning about their individual lives and interests, working with them to make them feel comfortable and happy is so rewarding. The older generation should be venerated and valued as they have so much to pass on and share with us.
Rachel’s enthusiasm and energy is infectious. She is so full of life and this combined with her kind and gentle nature makes her a wonderful asset to Iffley Care Home. She is inspirational and encouraging, as well as thoughtful and caring. Rachel supports residents to take part in meaningful and stimulating activities. “In just a few weeks of being here the impact she had was tremendous,” says Sharon Woodley the home’s Activities Leader.
At Iffley a timetable of activities is organised that appeal to residents both individually and collectively, residents and their loved ones offer ideas and make suggestions. We might do something to reflect an event such as the Poppy Appeal and tie it into a Vera Lynn sing song, a pat dog will come in one evening or we’ll do baking or plan a special event such as an outing. “We organise all kinds of activities and encourage residents to join in,” says Rachel. When I came for my interview the Home Manager Sue Stubberfield noticed that I could play the piano and sing. Songs resonate with residents; they offer a journey back in time to past memories. Music can be therapeutic and encourages residents who sometimes are initially less willing to engage.”
Rachel’s colleague Sharon adds: “She puts her heart and soul into everything – not for praise but because of the pleasure she gets from seeing residents smile. Someone with Rachel’s talent might want fame but that isn’t for her, she is doing something she loves.”
“Iffley is very friendly, Sue and Sharon are really encouraging and they listen and are really supportive. The Award came as a complete surprise, I am delighted!” commented Rachel.
Chantelle and Katie, two bubbly, Lifestyle Coordinators working at Bridge House Care Home, are the winners of the Oxfordshire Association of Care Providers – Inspiration for All: Care Home Worker Award 2016.
Located in the heart of Abingdon, this high­ quality residential, nursing and dementia care provider gives its visitors a very warm welcome. Nothing is too much trouble, the atmosphere is relaxed and if you had any cares or worries with you, they immediately disappear. Light, fresh and modern, its uniquely designed interiors greet you with a purposeful mix of stimulating, yet relaxing living. The adjoining Riverly Club (an exclusive members club for over 55’s) with its excellent facilities, offers residents the opportunity for exercise and socialisation.
“It’s great”, says Chantelle, “at Bridge House we are a community, but we’re not isolated or cut off, we are about bringing the outside in, whilst actively supporting residents desires to go out and about, we encourage community interaction ­ it’s a vibrant and exciting model of care!”
Chantelle is very conscious that the general public’s view of a residential and nursing care homes – often portrayed on our TV screens – promotes a rather stereotypical, gloomy image of life in a care home. She stresses, “Residential care today, is fast moving away from this dated
       The Care Home Worker Award
Chantelle Merritt & Katie Marshall Bridge House, Abingdon, Carebase Ltd
to Care Award
Highly Commended:
Rachel Burdett­Smith
Iffley Residential & Nursing Home, Sanctuary Care
      2017|ISSUE 3|TALKING CARE|17

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