How Derbyshire carers delivered an exceptional service to care home residents over the past year

Carers have delivered an exceptional service to their residents over the past year; oftenmaking personal sacrifices to ensure they remain safe.

Natasha with a resident
Natasha with a resident

But what about the unsung Derbyshire care home heroes?

From the cooks to the maintenance team, staff at Richmond Care Home in Shirebrook have gone above and beyond to give residents the best experience possible during a testing time.

We look at what a typical day looks like activities coordinator, a role that has been essential to the happiness and wellbeing of residents.

Lunch time

Before the day starts

Natasha Westwood has a boundless energy which is infectious amongst staff and residents. It’s what makes her perfect for her role.

As the community activities coordinator at Richmond Care Home, it is Natasha’s job to organise and implement the activity schedule for residents.

During the coronavirus pandemic, Natasha went above and beyond to devise safe activities that would keep residents stimulated, happy, and engaged.

Natasha organises many activities including, but not limited to, exercise classes, baking, arts and crafts, games, bingo, and flower arranging.

From foot spa sessions to socially distanced lunches, she went the extra mile.

The first task of the day

On arrival at the home, Natasha greets all residents and reminds them of the activity planned for that day.

She works her way around the communal areas of the home and visits the residents who are in their bedrooms.

Natasha Westwood with a resident

If the residents decide that they would like to change the day’s activity, Natasha has a bank of other ideas that she can quickly put into action.

The activities schedule Natasha organises many activities including, but not limited to, exercise classes, baking, arts and crafts, games, bingo, and flower arranging.

She meets regularly with residents to seek their input into the activities schedule and gets inspiration from online care forums.

Special occasions are always embraced at Richmond – from Easter and Christmas to St George’s Day, St Patrick’s Day and other festivals.

Natasha makes a big fuss of residents on their birthdays and other special days such as Mother’s Day. Everyone in the Shirebrook care home is encouraged to join in.

Tailoring the activities

During her time as community activities coordinator, Natasha has made many observations.

She loves to sing with the residents and, in doing so, noticed that residents’ appetites often increase if they sing ten minutes before they eat.

As part of these consultations, residents often ask for outside entertainers. Singers are now a regular feature at Richmond. And even through the coronavirus pandemic, we found a way to make this happen safely.

Some care home activities are deliberately chosen to be suitable for care home residents living with dementia.

Musical activities are particularly popular – especially if they evoke memories of the past.

Community activities are also very popular at Richmond. While these are on hold during the pandemic, we hope to organise these again in the future.

Local activities include trips to pubs and cafes in Shirebrook village, and meetings with other care homes local to Shirebrook.

Encouraging interaction

Care home activities aren’t to everyone’s taste.

Some residents prefer to spend time in their rooms at Richmond.

Natasha will get to know each individual and gently encourage residents to take part. But she always reads the situation and never pushes someone beyond their comfort zone.

Sometimes residents arrive at Richmond Care Home feeling lost and anxious.

As the activities coordinator, Natasha works hard to help them see that life can still be fun.

After the activities

An activity coordinator’s role isn’t just limited to activities.

Natasha rolls up her sleeves after the morning’s entertainment to help other team members at lunchtime.

Before Natasha leaves for the day, she spends the remainder of her time chatting to residents at Richmond Care Home.

Giving residents company and interacting with them is so important to keep minds active and combat loneliness.

Natasha receives endless praise and thanks from the families of residents local to Shirebrook for the work that she does.

In Richmond Care Home’s report by the CQC, they observed: “A range of activities were available (at Richmond Care Home), and people engaged in these inside the home and in other events in the local community.

People told us the staff were kind and caring and responsive to their care needs. Dignity was respected, and any cultural or spiritual needs were supported.”

In conclusion, Natasha believes that residents will be inspired to be happy and have fun at Richmond if they see her doing the same.

She said: “If I put a smile on people’s faces and see them enjoying themselves, I know I’m doing a good job.”