Keri Oxley, Activity Organiser, Wellington and Longforth
Starting a forest school is no easy task but managing a positive experience for both older and younger people at the same time would seem impossible, and how do you build an activity programme that suits the needs and interests of the many.
These two tasks our what Keri Oxley of Wellington House has been working towards and has been recognised at the Great British Care Awards for doing.
Firstly, Forest School was started as test programme between the residents of Longforth house who either have an Early onset Dementia or a lower Mental health need, A Local forest group who provide forest school for young adults and a local Dementia Charity called Reminisce Learning.
Keri represented the Residents of Longforth and made sure that the programme would be safe and a positive experience for our Resident’s, Keri has been key in directing the programme towards the area’s where the Residents respond to most effectively.
The overall aim of the project was to see if these two very different groups of vulnerable people could enjoy and learn from each other and with time and a lot of hard work, a relationship started to build where both groups moved pass the fear of the unknown and started to feel safe around each other and even beginning to build bonds of friendship.
When the residents of Longforth were asked what they thought about the project there was nothing but smiles and appreciation for the staff that run the school and for the children who they learn alongside. “I enjoy the woodwork” said one when asked and when we asked what they thought about the children and some of the less positive behaviour one of our female resident’s said “doesn’t bother me they are just enjoying themselves”.
The Children have grown protective of their older counterparts even to the point that they show worry and concern that they are okay and ask where particular individuals are when they miss a week.
Forest School truly is the best example of intergenerational work around and hopefully will continue to grow
Secondly Something missing, Wellington House felt like it was behind when it came to activities, we did the usual activities like art’s and crafts, Bingo, musical performer’s and Parachute Games.
But it just seemed like something needed to change, so a new activities position was created and along came Keri!
Keri started from scratch, throwing the old programme out and started again.
Of course, the residents did enjoy some of the old activities and they still had a place, things like Birdy Bingo and a good old sing song weren’t going anywhere.
But Keri wanted to get more people engaged so where do you start? Other than Music one of the biggest interest’s people have Keri felt was animals, so Keri worked hard to get as many Animal related activities accessible to as many resident’s as she could. Keri managed to find a bird of prey company that brings owl’s and hawks into the home, she found another that would bring a miniature horse into the home.
Keri got resident’s out to our more local zoo’s including Paignton, Bristol zoo and the Donkey Sanctuary.
Next was trying to continue the intergenerational work with children and Wellington House, a link between a local Primary School and reminisce Learning was set up and the Archie Project was created to develop an opportunity to bring Year 4 students into the home and create an opportunity for our residents to be able to visit the primary school and witness and interact with students in the school setting.
This gave the student’s a better insight into Dementia and gave the Resident’s the opportunity to spend quality time with children that wanted to learn about the past’s and current interests.
For 2019 Keri is working on developing our Activities programme to become even more wide spread and picking up even more on individuals’ personal interests. Making a personal Centred care plan for each individual but focusing on more one to one activity time. Weather this is Swimming, Bowling, shopping Cinema visits or even going horse riding. Keri wants to make Wellington House’s activity programme the most personalised in the industry.