Care Home Week 17: Guest blog from Gail Melville at Balhousie Lisden Care

Personalisation, Participation and Activities

My name is Gail Melville, I am the activities co-ordinator at the Balhousie Lisden Care Home in Kirriemuir. It is a genuine pleasure to spend time with residents, assisting and entertaining them in their home. As such, I take my role here seriously, and know firsthand how important participation and activities are in a care setting to enhance a person’s well being.

What my job entails:
My job includes lots of planning, budgeting and time management. I make sure residents’ birthdays, special occasions and seasonal occasions are celebrated, with parties, concerts or events to honour them such as Burns Suppers, Halloween, Easter and Christmas Parties, Open Day Summer Fete etc. A lot of this involves effective relationship building and communication with local community groups and organisations, as social engagement and inclusion for our residents is a high priority. Sourcing and planning outings for residents to various places is also part of my role. This can be from a one-to-one visit into town to do some shopping, right up to taking residents to our local ‘Music Cafe’ for song and community singing, joining the ‘Friday Fling’ dancing and socialising group organised by Alzheimer Scotland or taking residents to visit local landmarks and organisations such as The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and Kirriemuir Connections etc. I also plan activities and groups involving the community such as a monthly Reminiscence Group in association with Angus Alive and Kirriemuir Library, as well as intergenerational projects involving nurseries, schools and community groups such as DD8 Music and Kirriemuir Connections, and arrange and attend meetings to make these happen.

Planning activities to meet the different needs of residents can be quite challenging at times, however, working alongside residents, their friends and families to find out their likes, dislikes, past and present hobbies and interests, and by communicating with them and compiling participation care plans, all help me in getting to know everyone’s individual needs and desires and planning accordingly.

My job role includes facilitating and carrying out activities for residents, ensuring they are enjoying what they are participating in and adapting activities to meet individual needs. I regularly communicate with residents and staff to inform them of the activities going on, when and where, and I make up and distribute a weekly activity guide, along with posters and information for our display boards around the home.

I also help to guide and mentor volunteers we have working within the home, such as senior pupils from Websters High School who assist with group activities.

Activities I carry out on a regular basis include:
General Knowledge Quiz, Movement to Music and Seated Exercises, Arts & Crafts, Bingo and other group games, Hand Therapy and Manicure, Skittles and Golf, Music Therapy, Gardening Group, Cooking & Baking, Pet Therapy, Cinema Afternoon, Accessing Outdoors, Weaving & Wool Crafts, One to One Time etc.

Another important aspect of my job is logging the activities I do every day in my Residents Activities Records folder. This folder contains a participation and engagement file for each resident, where I record their engagement and participation i.e. activities they have attended, how they engaged, any positive or negative outcomes, and improvements or suggestions etc. This folder contains no medical information and I regularly encourage staff, friends and relatives to read or add any information that is of benefit to resident’s participation.

Why I enjoy my job and do what I do:
There are many reasons I enjoy my job, but the main one for me is the reward of making someone happy. I know firsthand how important participation and activities are in enhancing a person’s well being. In my experience, it is often the littlest things in life that bring the highest of rewards, and if I can play some part in contributing to making our residents day a happy and fulfilling one, contributing to their self esteem, confidence and spiritual wellbeing, then I know I have succeeded in my role.

Dementia Ambassador:
My background prior to working with Balhousie Care Group is in Mentoring and Team Management and also facilitating non medical Mental Health Care i.e. alternative therapies e.g. Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Design, Meditation, Diet, Physical and Mental Exercise, Yoga, Pilates etc.

Over the past 3 months I have taken on the additional role as Dementia Ambassador within Lisden Balhousie. I feel that the additional knowledge I am learning ties in very well with Personalisation, Participation and Activities in the Care Home setting.

A large number of our residents have dementia, varying from early onset right up to advanced stages. Taking a personalised approach regarding everyone we care for is vitally important in delivering the highest standard of care and in understanding each of our residents needs are met.

As much as the facilitation of activities is important, in my experience, it is vitally important to provide our residents with the right environment to suit their needs. This can be something as simple as making sure that furniture is arranged in the correct way; that contrasting cushions are placed on chairs; areas of access are open and visible; noise levels are appropriate etc. I am always mindful also of the changing needs of those I care for. As their dementia may progress, so too may their needs change, therefore it is necessary to update my care plans accordingly, and to always be mindful that a success one day may be unsuccessful another day, so adaptation, an open mind, understanding, patience and resourcefulness are key to everything I do.

My Daily Moto:
• “Treat others with the care, compassion and understanding as you wish to be treated yourself”
• “See the person, not the illness”

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