Emma Allum on why she loves being an Activities Co-ordinator
Nobody wants to end up in a nursing home. But that’s where jobs like mine are important. We make the time go a little more pleasantly...
4th February 2015
I have one of the best jobs in the world. By turns interesting, hilarious, stressful, sad, a little bit lonely at times, always rewarding. I greet new service users with this: “I’m Emma. I do the activities around here. We’ll get to know each other over the next few days, you can tell me what you like doing and I’ll accommodate, even if you just want a cuppa and someone to watch Countdown with, I’m your girl.”
Of course, I’m not really alone doing the activities. I’m lucky enough to work with carers who understand the importance of stimulating the mind as well as I do, and I am forever walking in to work and finding a new batch of pictures that have been coloured in, or evidence that Rosie enjoyed a game of draughts after tea with one of the care team. And I mustn’t forget the volunteers – those special people who selflessly give their time to brighten the days of vulnerable adults.
But it’s up to me to make sure that those activities are always available, that regular outside activity providers are booked, events are marked by a party, and birthdays are always remembered. I recently came up with a Personal Profile for the use of carers and families to have a simple, cohesive way of practising person-centred care. I write a monthly calendar and Newsletter and hold a quarterly residents forum, where the service users can air their views on the home and life in general.
Life is funny here. In both meanings of the word. The hilarity that occurred when we were in the middle of a word wheel and someone accidentally came up with a swear word, then fell about laughing like a twelve-year-old. Or the time when Sarah, 87, threw the dregs of her tea out of the window, not realising it was shut - and giggled like a school girl at the mess! But it’s funny weird too; the amount of times I’ve found myself doing paperwork in the corner of the room of someone who’s dying, just so they’re not alone. Or consoling a relative when they realise that, although the person in front of them looks like their parent, they are unable to recognise their nearest and dearest.
The loose term ‘Challenging behaviour’ can be an additional cause of worry in this job, as I found out when I tried to initiate a reminiscence session with a group of 6, and it turned out that 2 of the ladies present loathed the very sight of each other. It’s understandable though - these people have spent most of their lives running their own households, making their own day to day decisions and, although we try here at least to ensure that there are always choices available, it is rather limited and not quite the same.
Nobody wants to end up in a nursing home. But that’s where jobs like mine are important. We make the time go a little more pleasantly.