Page 18 - TalkingCare_Issue3_WebVersion_OACP Winter 2017
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approach – it’s brighter, livelier, intuitive and much more interactive. The needs, interests and wellbeing of the individual resident and their families are paramount. Respect for privacy and dignity are woven into everything we do. As Lifestyle Coordinators we see our job role as creating ‘bright lively meaningful moments of fun filled activity in a safe environment, in an atmosphere of love and warmth”.
Chatting to Chantelle, it became obvious that she is an engaging, kind and empathetic person with an infectiously happy disposition and an innate ability to understand the needs of others. Born to entertain, she was the ‘one’ in her family who made people laugh. Trained as a Butlin’s Redcoat, her creativity knows no bounds, which is a fantastic asset in her job. Chantelle married her colleague Clive, also an entertainer, in September 2014. With her capacity to share, Chantelle organised a cut­ down version of her wedding for residents at Bridge House. Her Dad walked Chantelle in her wedding dress down the aisle again in the home’s Bistro, she cut the cake and relived her first dance. “It was wonderful and everyone enjoyed it!” When pregnant with her first child, and looking for maternity cover,an advert placed in the local press encouraged eleven candidates. Chantelle interviewed them all, looking for the right person with the best values and skill sets for the post. “No one seemed suitable, until I met Katie, we just clicked, I knew Katie would make a brilliant Lifestyle Coordinator”, said Chantelle.
Chatting to Katie who had been sitting, listening and chipping in to our conversation, OACP asked her why she had applied for the Lifestyle Coordinator’s job. Katie replied, “I was working as a hairdresser and I wanted to do something different. I didn’t set out with the intention to work in the care sector. I really liked the job description, thought I could do it and decided to apply!”
Katie continued: “I spent a lot of time with my Nan, Kathleen, who at 84 needed some help, she has dementia and I looked after her and helped her. I guess that was really good experience. I also chatted a lot to customers when I was a hairdresser, you get to know them well and they confide in you and trust you. When I met Chantelle I just knew we could work together – it was as if I’d always known her – we just gelled”. Chantelle picks up the story, “I briefed Katie and she shadowed me to learn what the job entailed, she was great, she took it all in. I knew she was the right person and now we are totally joined at the hip, we bounce ideas of each other, it’s a fantastic
working relationship, a great DOUBLE ACT!’
Lifestyle Coordinators work hard as they strive to ensure residents’ quality of life is meaningful and fulfilled. Chantelle explains: “Activities are varied – film club, talks and discussion groups, themed events and external visits are consistently and carefully planned to meet the needs of our residents. Not all residents join in with activities, some like their privacy”.
“We manage all our activities and events within the Care Docs management software system, it’s very user friendly. I was a bit daunted at first, says Katie, but you soon get used to it. We record who has attended our activities, as it helps us build a picture of what an individual is interested in, it can also help us to understand the interests of our residents as a whole”.
“Activities are not compulsory, they are offered, and residents decide what they would like to do. Our residents’ shape their activity, no one is ever pressured, in fact, the interests and desires, of our residents’ drive the content of our weekly schedule”.
“If a resident is living with dementia or receiving nursing care, we provide unrivalled levels of support to the resident and their family. We run ‘information days’ to help families better understand an illness or condition. Each floor of Bridge House includes a registered nurses station. “If we hear someone is poorly (depending on how poorly), we might go and see if they would like anything, sometimes a ‘hot chocolate’ can work wonders – it’s the little things you do that have a big impact on a resident’s recovery”, says Katie.
“We both love our jobs, every day is different. We aim to give residents experiences that create excitement and new memories, which we hope, they will never forget. We are taking someone, who is in a wheelchair, ice­skating this winter, as it is something they have always wanted to do!” To get our residents out and about, Bridge House has a minibus and courtesy car. Mike our driver can be booked out for trips, or asked to collect a prescription from the surgery. He’s a lovely man! Activities bring purpose to each day – everyone working at Bridge House is here to make a difference – to make each day a little more special”.
“Both Katie and I continue to push the boundaries to bring novel and exciting activities to Bridge House. We are always searching for new resources. I’m a trained Oomph! Instructor. Oomph! is a health and wellbeing programme, which promotes physical fitness and wellbeing. I have residents who are over 100 years of age
enjoying the sessions”.
“Ideas for activities come from all kinds of sources. We go online for inspiration, UK Geriactive – a Lifestyle Coordinators Support Group and Pinterest, there’s so much out there! We encourage outside tutors to come in and teach different activities ‘Zumba Gold’ is one of them. Karaoke is always popular. We had a request for ‘curling’, from one resident, which we organised ­ it went down very well!
“As part of our ongoing engagement with the community, children from Abingdon Boys School come in for the day, test residents on their Chess moves, help them write letters, or explain how to use technology – it’s lovely to see the interaction, residents enjoy the company of young people, it’s so important”, says Chantelle. “Last summer we organised a Dog Show;, residents, relatives and staff brought in their dogs, we had different categories and competitions to enter such as ‘find the sausage.’ Sausages were hidden around the garden. A cheeky squirrel grabbed one and ran off with it, I couldn’t believe it! Pets at Home sponsored the prizes and everyone enjoyed it! We have seasonal themed events at Christmas, a ‘Santa’s Grotto’ complete with reindeer”.
Care and nursing homes really do make a difference to their residents – life doesn’t have to stop because you or a loved one or friend moves into a residential care home, it can just be the beginning of a brand new, life­changing experience! To paraphrase an advertising slogan, ‘the future’s bright’; it definitely is at Bridge House, with bright stars – Chantelle and Katie!
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“We both love our jobs, every day is different. We aim to give residents experiences that create excitement and new memories, which we hope, they will never forget. ”
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