Caring Homes colleagues from Whittington House in Cheltenham and Mill House in Chipping Campden were yesterday celebrating success after winning two of three awards presented at The Meaningful Activity and Wellbeing Conference on the 30th September 2019, at the Pavilion, Cheltenham.
Organised and hosted by Gloucestershire’s Care home Support Team and Meaningful Activity & Wellbeing Network this year’s Annual Activity Awards recognised that the role of activities professionals can be quite varied and created three categories in this year’s awards, being;
• Inspirational member of staff supporting Meaningful Activity and Wellbeing.
• Innovative project supporting Meaningful Activity and Wellbeing.
• Connecting to the Wider Community.
Members of the public, residents, relatives and colleagues from around Gloucestershire nominated activities colleagues, activity projects and those who connected with the wider community.
Winner of the ‘Connecting to the Wider Community’ Award Health and Wellbeing Lead, Jenny Spencer at Whittington House was nominated by Lakeside Primary School for the links and bonds she has helped Whittington House, its colleagues and residents forge with the primary school children and teaching staff. The project has realised a positive impact on the children in improving their understanding of older people living with dementia. The friendships and confidence created have far surpassed anything any of those involved thought possible and the school children actively engage during school holidays to visit with and be part of the activities and trips organised within the home for the residents.
Winner of the ‘Innovative project supporting Meaningful Activity and Wellbeing’ Award and runner up in the ‘Inspirational member of staff supporting Meaningful Activity and Wellbeing’, Health and Wellbeing Lead, Paul Dixon at Mill House was nominated by colleagues, residents and relatives.
What’s fascinating about Paul is that he is new to his career in social care and has only been providing activities for residents at Mill House for less than two years. But, in that time he has improved the quality of life for residents, helped them regain valuable skills, confidence and created a culture within the home that positively embraces every opportunity to engage in meaningful activities and interactions tailored to suit every residents, interests, aspirations and abilities. Paul is one of many colleagues who has benefited within the home from Caring Homes’ award-winning dementia training, ‘Living in My World’, which helps give an insight for colleagues on how people living with dementia experience life. This training has helped Paul and the team at Mill House develop every aspect of care to ensure it is truly person-centred and achieves meaningful, positive outcomes for resident.
Paul’s community work was felt to be outstanding, and the winning project, was his new Community Day Care Club. Paul has worked with the local community (Charities) and has single handily put together a day care club, enabling members of the community who cannot afford the cost of day care to join him in at Mill House, every month he hosts this community day care club offering lunch, drinks, nursing care activities and music.
Providing opportunities for active and varied interactions and activities is an important element in ensuring the health and wellbeing of all residents and something which Whittington House and Mill House take great pride in and something for which Jenny was shortlisted in all three categories in this year’s awards. Many residents look forward to the children’s visits and have built valuable friendships with them. The enjoyment is clear to see on faces as laughter erupts over shared experiences and those moments of pure joy are hugely fulfilling for colleagues and relatives to see.
Jenny who says her role as Health and Wellbeing Lead is the best job, she’s ever had, spent many years working in schools as a teaching assistant and supporting playgroups. She joined Whittington House in 2017 after taking some time to seek out a fulfilling career. She sought feedback from close friends and family on what they thought she offered any potential employer who in unison said she is caring, creative, a good communicator, good photographer and great at administration.
Modest Jenny said winning the award made her feel, “Very emotional”. She was surprised and humbled adding that, “The award was unexpected but wonderful”. Jenny describes her role as extremely rewarding and says she is very blessed with the most fantastic residents, relatives and colleagues at Whittington House. She wishes that the skills she has developed in her role were ones she had possessed when her own grandparents were alive and that she could have enhanced their later years in the same way she is able to now. Jenny embraces the opportunity of getting to know each resident personally and developing activities and interactions that really meet their needs and aspirations, so much so that when on holiday she finds herself missing everyone. She describes all those at Whittington House as her extended family and goes home knowing each day that she has been able to make a positive difference to the residents’ day.
Those nominating Jenny said, “For Lakeside Primary children and staff they have shone a bright light on our perceptions of not only dementia but on just how joyful and inclusive a residential nursing home can be.
“We first made our tentative connections two years ago, bringing along six children, none of us really knowing what to expect as we nervously made our way inside. We have sung together, the house filled with carols as our ‘wandering minstrels’ sang their way through the corridors and lounges, mince pies, Easter egg hunts, summer fairs, TV theme tune quizzes, musical ‘oomph’ sessions, pen pals, stretching, relaxation, craft, massage, dancing.
“When it’s written down the list is long but what can’t be measured is the impact it has had on our children. We found that children said they had an increased awareness of dementia and felt much more comfortable interacting with people with dementia. I don’t have words to describe how amazing this has been…. just wow!”