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How to be a good…. Activity organiser

Sam Buckley, Activity Organiser, St Cloud Care

Sam Buckley, St Cloud Care

Pride of The Boynes, Sam Buckley was an Activity Organiser finalist in this year’s regional Great British Care Awards for the South West region.


Sam became an activity coordinator to enhance the lives of older people.  Sam started working in care 10 years ago as a Care Assistant and had an opportunity to work with the incredible Alzheimer’s Society delivering group activities within the community. After the funding had ended for her role, Sam decided she wanted to take all she had learnt within the charity and all of her training, into a care home setting to enrich the lives of residents; in particular those living with dementia.

Sam appreciated how incredibly important it was to try and engage with everyone even in some small way, and in particular those individuals who initially appear reluctant.  Sam acknowledged how firstly understanding an individual helped her explore ways to know how to engage with each of her service users.

Listening is a skill that Sam appreciates is much needed to enable her to have a very person-centred approach to activities.   Sam recognises that, “a resident’s background and their life history are key”. Talking to the residents and their family members gives Sam a better understanding who they are as an individual.

Sam uses her skills to invite and encourage residents to participate in various activities and believes a crucial aspect in her success, is building a trusting relationship with residents, so they feel that they have more of a friendship, this way people feel more relaxed, happy, valued and are more likely to become involved.

It is Sam’s goal that residents feel there is purpose and meaning at all times in their lives.  Sam’s experience means she understands meaningful activities cover a range of things and go well beyond just coordinated group sessions. Daily visits, reading a book or just holding someone’s hand could be the difference in preventing social isolation. Knowing an individual and their particular needs is what it takes to know you are making not just a difference, but the difference the resident wants!

One area of caring through activities’ can involve palliative care and to deliver meaningful activities at this time can be incredibly rewarding but also a challenge. Knowing a resident and using sensory activities, such as aromatherapy oils that give off wonderful smells and can be gently massaged into hands, can make a real difference. Activity care plans are reviewed and evaluated continuously so we can find out what works and what doesn’t work; priority is always the resident and to bring moments of joy to an individual’s day.

Sam schedules her programme by meeting with the residents, families and team members within an activity forum every couple of months to get their input on what they would like to see on the activity programme. It is important to Sam the home feels part of the community and so she regularly invites the local groups, clubs and organisations, as much as possible to events. Supporting residents to feel actively involved in the wider community by ensuring that regular visits out, are just as important to Sam. Sam’s fundraisers are not just an opportunity for fun, but she raises hundreds of pounds for good causes.

You can see why Sam is such a star, but when asked why does she love her Job?

Sam replied “Truthfully and simply, the reason I do this job is because I just like to make people smile. The whole purpose of me wanting to do this job and loving what I do is knowing that I am able to make someone happy and content. This is the most rewarding job anyone can have, and I feel so lucky to be doing it”.

No wonder Sam was a finalist…  Congratulations Sam!

Key points:

  • Good communication
  • Engaging the local community
  • End of life care
  • Reducing social isolation
  • Feedback from residents, staff & families
  • Person centred & meaningful activities

Edel Harris





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