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Carers Week: Meet the coordinators bringing laughter into UK care homes

The last 12 months have arguably been the hardest for social care. To help inject some positivity, John Ramsay, founder of Social-Ability, shines a light on those who are working tirelessly to make care homes as joyful as possible for residents. 

I founded Social-Ability after witnessing firsthand the importance of activities and engagement in care homes when my own father developed dementia. Today, we work with care homes across the country to bring our tech and games to residents, but often this wouldn’t be possible without activities coordinators.

Image: Ebony Atkin

To emphasise the significance of this role, I spoke with two activities coordinators from partner care homes: Ebony Atkinson from Meadows Court Care Home (Kirklands Gare Group) in Leicester and Jess Waldron from Green Tree Court Care Home in Devon (Lexicon Health Care Group). Their insights shed light on why the role of activities coordinator is indispensable in creating vibrant, engaging, and joyful environments for residents.

The heart of the home

The role of an activities coordinator is to create memorable experiences for residents, encouraging social interaction, physical movement, and overall enjoyment of life. They are, in short, the heart of the home. 

Ebony’s passion for this role shines through. ‘It’s the best decision I ever made’ she says when reflecting on her decision to join Meadows Court Care Home, ‘without someone planning and coordinating fun activities for residents, the home would lack atmosphere and people would start to feel down’. 

Jess shares a similar sentiment, mentioning that ‘just because someone has moved into a care home does not mean that any hobbies and passions they enjoyed before need to stop’. 

From traditional games such as bingo and chair exercises to more creative pursuits like colouring, crafting, and poetry, the role of an activities coordinator is to ensure that residents can enjoy hobbies just like everyone else and live their best possible life.

Beyond  agenda setting 

In conversations with both Jess and Ebony, it’s clear that the role of an activities coordinator is very varied. Jess emphasises the collaborative aspect of her work, with her daily routine involving  drawing ideas from residents and their families. This includes a choir practice run by their in-house Occupational Therapist and a woodwork session run by their maintenance man.

Image: Jess bringing in llamas to see the residents

Having a routine is really important for residents living in care homes and the role of an activities coordinator is indispensable when it comes to creating one. Whether it’s flower arranging on a Friday or choir sessions on Wednesday, residents look forward to activities. 

Joy and laughter 

Bringing joy and laughter to residents is key to being an amazing activities coordinator. Ebony’s most recent success was helping her care home go viral on TikTok by posting a video of residents laughing with one another while playing with our interactive light projector called the Happiness Programme.

Image: Photo from the Happiness Programme.

It’s amazing what the power of sensory stimulation can do. The interactive light projector has helped both Jess and Ebony’s residents to be more physically and mentally active, socialise more, as well as reduce distress. This is especially important for residents living with dementia. In fact, research from Sport England reveals that people with long-term conditions like dementia are twice as likely to be inactive. 

Jess added: ‘the Happiness Programme is also amazing for when a resident’s family visits. It provides a lovely way for them to interact with each other and do something fun, the great variety of games and features means there is something for everyone’.

The essential role of activities coordinators

It’s clear that an activities coordinator is the backbone of a care home. Carers are incredibly busy, and while they are absolutely integral to the daily operations and wellbeing of residents, they can often lack the time to organise and oversee the vital activities that bring joy and laughter. 

An activities coordinator fills this gap, ensuring that residents lead lives filled with social interaction and physical activity. That’s why it’s important to celebrate individuals like Ebony and Jess not only during Carers Week but also beyond.

Images: Ebony Atkin, Jess and Kampus Production

More on Care Week:

Case study: The harsh reality of balancing work and unpaid care

UK Care Week 2024: Five councils that are taking part

Emily Whitehouse
Writer and journalist for Newstart Magazine, Social Care Today and Air Quality News.

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