“Here is your next challenge.” said Paula, “Think of a new name for an activity co-ordinator.”
We were at the launch of EachStep last week, a new care home, where we want to demonstrate what a truly personalised service can look like. Paula works for Community Integrated Care, leading their services for older people. They have recruited a great activities co-ordinator, and we had been talking about how this role needed to be different to traditional activities co-ordinators and therefore probably needed a different title, but what?
The traditional activities co-ordinator will organise a programme of group activities usually in weekday afternoons in a care home, to create a more stimulating environment.
“Look what they have me doing! It is like being in primary school.” said Jean.
I met Jean when I was asked to look at a flagship care home for a national provider. It was a fantastic building, with an amazing restaurant, a gym and music room. The staff were making Christmas decorations with people who lived there, using coloured paper and glue. Jean was not impressed. Dan was the activities co-ordinator and said that he was expected to put a weekly programme of activities up at the reception of the care home. He was the Butlins Redcoat of the care home.
It is time to re-think the role and title of the activities co-ordinator. This has to start with re-thinking the purpose. Is it about happiness? I like the way that Professor Paul Dolan conceptualises happiness – as a balance of pleasure and purpose. In the context of a care home, this would be meaningful good days.
Enabling meaningful good days is everyone’s role.
The staff need to ensure that they know what matters to each person and how they want to be supported. This is likely to be recorded in a one-page profile, and making sure this impacts on peoples days, that they are supported in the way that makes sense to them is critical to meaningful good days.
Cath, the Community Circles Co-ordinator has a particular role around purpose, and helping each person think about what they want to achieve in their life over the next year. This could be to trying a new hobby or reconnecting with one that they used to do, it might mean contribution through volunteering, or learning something new, like using Skype to talk to their family, or working on their individual and family history. Whatever they want to do or achieve or change in in their life the Community Circle brings people together to support this.
Another way that people are supported is through their individual time, where each person has 2 hours a month where they choose where they go, when, and which staff member they want to support them. For a Blackburn Rovers fan this may mean a monthly match, or having your nails done at the local manicurist, or a pint in the local, or volunteering at the local school.
What does this mean for the activities co-ordinator role? They are likely to be responsible for making sure that the individual time happens, and is on the rota. I think it is a role with co-production at its heart. As everyone will have one-page profiles at EachStep, it means that the activities co-ordinator can see where people share interests. For example if bird watching is important to three people, it may mean figuring out where to have bird tables, and how to get the birdseed for this. It could mean that people want to volunteer at the local RSPB, or spend some time together listening to bird sound music and identifying birds. It is whatever people want to do, individually or together, around a hobby that matters to them.
My first answer to Paula’s challenge was concierge. You find concierges in many hotels and there role is to help you find tickets, to know the best places to each, or the top local attractions. At its best it is a a personalised service from someone with excellent local knowledge, a can do attitude, and a determintaion to make sure your visit or trip is a success. Paula’s suggestion was ‘Head of Hobbies’. Please help us find a title for a role that is about supporting meaningful days, that embodies co-production, and is not about group activities – unless that is specifically what people want.