Sophia Feurtado, Service User Engagement Manager, Exemplar Health Care
The meaningful activities that we do, including physical, social and leisure activities, are a big part of who we are and determine the quality of our everyday lives. That’s why they play a vital role in the care and support that we provide for our residents at Exemplar Health Care.
Meaningful activity helps to sustain both physical and mental health – it can help to overcome loneliness, improve wellbeing and boost self-esteem.
When someone moves into one of our homes, we ensure that they’re supported to maintain their interests, have opportunities to develop new passions and interests and participate in activity that‘s important to them, promoting their health and wellbeing.
We take a holistic and person-centred approach to ‘activity’ – we build it into the daily lives of our residents so that they have everyday opportunities to engage in meaningful interactions and engagement.
Whilst planned activities are important, knowing that they contribute to a sense of community and belonging, let’s be honest – they aren’t for everyone! Some individuals prefer activities they can pursue on their own, such as reading or listening to the radio. Everyone is different, so our job is to understand this and to offer a range of activities for them to engage in.
Meaningful activity doesn’t always have to be planned– it could be support with everyday living activities such as holding a tooth brush, choosing an outfit for the day or helping to set the table before lunch.
Everyone working in our homes, from Administrators to Kitchen Assistants and Support Workers, has a responsibility to promote meaningful activity. Asking residents for help and encouraging them to carry out everyday tasks such as light dusting, setting the table or watering the plants, rather than doing it on their behalf, can really make them feel valued and at home.
We empower our residents to have a voice and be an active part of their home and the wider community, which is why they have lots of opportunities to get involved in various activities, including becoming a Service User Ambassador, volunteering and taking part in recruitment activities.
One of the residents at our Fairburn Mews home in Castleford, Arlene, is living with Huntington’s disease and uses her previous experience and knowledge to get involved in lots of aspects of the home. She’s the home’s Infection Prevention and Control Champion and attends networks, events and forums run by the local authority. She also delivers training to our colleagues and other residents, and even works with the Activities Team to develop a meaningful activity programme for all who live at Fairburn Mews. Getting involved in the home and maintaining an active social life has helped Arlene to adapt to the changes that Huntington’s disease has brought to her life. She’s said that despite life being different now, she still gets do the things that she wants to – at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.
Another great example is The Platform, a pop-up shop at our Quarryfields home in Doncaster that’s run by our residents and colleagues. The Platform gives people the opportunity to use and develop their skills, whilst doing an accredited volunteering course and getting work experience. Cassandra, a volunteer at The Platform, loves to cook and bake, and makes a fantastic shortbread! She’s had the opportunity to do many different things whilst volunteering, and even worked with Sheffield Hallam University and Sport England on a project in the community.
This is what we do – we build meaningful activity into the daily lives of our residents. For many people who live in our homes, life can be different, but that doesn’t mean that they should stop doing the things that are important to them.