Grace Kenway, Home Maker Brunelcare
Grace Kenway discusses her role as a Home Maker at Brunelcare’s Deerhurst Care Home
“I have always wanted to look after people. Even as a child I was always looking for ways to help others. On the suggestion of a school teacher, I applied to join Brunelcare in 2013 as an Apprentice Care Assistant when I left school.
The key reason I enjoy working in care is that each day I see the difference I make to people’s lives, in the last precious years of their lives. I’m motivated by the thought that I’m giving something back to our older generations, the people who teach us so much – and one day this will be me.
The training I have received with Brunelcare, along with the inspirational environment I have been working in at Brunelcare’s Deerhurst care home, are two factors that continue to drive me. I’ve received ongoing support and encouragement from the care home manager and my colleagues. I also enjoy the sense of freedom I have to develop in my role and I’m granted access to all the training I seek.
The Home Maker role – meeting individual needs
My role as a Home Maker began last year when I was promoted to this more senior and new role within the home.
As a Home Maker I plan and coordinate the many daily activities we arrange for all our residents within Deerhurst, along with coordinating a team of Activity Coordinators and the Carers involved with our activities. Given that I am relatively young and new to care myself, I also like to take our younger recruits ‘under my wing’ giving them plenty of support and encouragement. I would describe myself as a ‘mother figure’.
My role is one that demands high levels of imagination and versatility. I do have to ‘think on my feet’, adapting to someone’s needs. I encourage my colleagues to use their skills in this way, to avoid having too structured an approach to our activity sessions.
My goal with every resident is to ensure that they don’t feel that their life has changed too dramatically by moving in to our home and joining the ‘Deerhurst family’. I throw myself into using all I know about the person, their interests, what comforts them if they get upset (so often seen with dementia). Just the other day I was able to comfort one of our residents very quickly by encouraging her to do some painting, knowing that she is a retired artist.
Encouraging memories and activity
People’s memories are something I frequently use in my approach. One particularly successful initiative I use is the ‘Music Memory Box’. We volunteered to trial the boxes for a local entrepreneur who developed these clever electronic boxes that contain objects linked with favourite tunes that mean something to the box owner. The box is built to actually play the music. This project used our knowledge of dementia, demonstrating how significant certain memories can be in helping someone move to a happier state. It’s wonderful to see someone suddenly burst into song when we work with their music memory box!
Even if someone has only participated in activity for a short time that day, it will have made a positive difference to their general wellbeing.
This year I feel I have accomplished some recognition for what I have achieved in my role. It was great to be nominated for some care sector awards, including making it as a finalist in the Great British Care Awards (South West) this year. I have also been invited by our Care Home Manager to accompany her to speak at two national conferences this year, one organised by NICE and the other an Inside Government event, both with audiences from within the care sector. We felt it was important to showcase my Home Maker role at these events.
If I have ‘left a little sparkle’ in the lives of our residents each day then I feel I have done my job as a Home Maker!”
Deerhurst resident Florence Little comments about Grace:
“Grace is a very attractive young girl to have around. She is kind, joyful and always energetic. She makes one feel good on a daily basis. I would be very upset if she were to leave, she is our Gracie, a true friend.”
Colleague Dean Abay, a Senior Nurse at Deerhurst says:
“Since we’ve introduced the home maker role it has had a great impact on the lives of the people living here. Grace has done an exceptional job in creating a homely environment. She’s done this by having a choice of different activities and knowing about their hobbies. Replacing loneliness with happiness, that’s what Grace does best!”
To learn more about the work of Brunelcare, visit: www.brunelcare.org.uk