To make care home life as fun and interesting as possible, most homes offer weekly or daily activities programmes to engage residents and help them to socialise with fellow residents.
This person centred care programme might include anything and everything, from more relaxing activities like gardening, painting, board games and knitting, to gentle exercise, carpet bowls and bingo, as well as excursions and day trips.
So, with all these activities going on, who’s in charge?
Lots of care homes employ an Activity Coordinator to plan and run activities at the home – and in this article, we’ll find out exactly what their role is and how you can become one. Read on to learn more…
What is an Activity Coordinator?
Activities Coordinators, also known as activities workers, are in charge of organising social activities in a care home, although they can also work in someone’s home or as part of the community in social care.
Depending on how big the home is, activities coordinators may have to schedule group activities for quite a few people! Activities Coordinators will then help to run the activities and encourage residents to participate, help them take part and answer any questions or resolve any issues they might have.
This role also involves asking residents what new activities they would like to try, finding out about old hobbies they want to pick back up and tailoring activities to individual needs and requirements.
If the home can support days out and trips, the activities coordinator will be the one to pick up the phone and book them, organise transport and ensure the correct procedures are followed for the trip.
Sometimes the Activities Coordinator will get involved in fund-raising for the home and getting involved with local businesses, due to their connection with the local community.
Why it’s an important role
There are many reasons why being an Activities Coordinator is an incredibly important role. For one thing, without activities, residents will likely be bored, feel isolated or lonely and won’t be getting the exercise and socialising that they need to be happy and healthy.
Given that lots of older people struggle with mobility, or might have a certain health condition, making activities easily accessible for them can really boost confidence, too.
For those with dementia, special dementia-focused activities such as reminiscing sessions help to bring back fond memories, improve mood and reduce agitation or distress.
Being an activity coordinator today has a much higher focus on wellbeing, in addition to the activities themselves.
Looking at residents’ emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual wellbeing is becoming more important in order to tailor activities that are meaningful to them and suit their personal preferences.
The role can enable residents to live their life to the fullest.
Skills, experience and qualifications required
Activities Coordinator can be an entry-level role, so a lot of the time you won’t need anything more than good literacy, numeracy and writing skills, strong communication skills, organisation and time management skills and a friendly, kind, patient and compassionate personality.
Some care homes may ask for formal qualifications such as GCSEs in Maths and English, or a social care qualification, such as a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Health and Social Care. Being able to think on your feet and act quickly is a must – activities won’t always go to plan and you’ll need a cool head to resolve problems quickly.
Having local knowledge is an advantage, as coordinators often organise events in the local community, arranging events with schools, churches, charities, local groups and family and friends.
Activities Coordinators need to be good listeners – if a resident has a particular desire to try a new activity, coordinators should do their best to make it happen. Similarly, if residents have feedback or a complaint about an activity, coordinators should take this on board and try to improve the experience for everyone the next time around.
Above all, if you want to be an Activities Coordinator, you’ll need to be creative, enthusiastic, optimistic and really care about people.
Training on the job
When you start working in a care home, you will need to get your Care Certificate as part of your induction, in addition to completing health and safety training – including first aid training.
Some Activities Coordinators then go on to pick up their Health and Social Care Diploma while on the job. Depending on the type of care home you work in, you may be given more specific training for things like working with people with dementia, autism or other conditions.
What does an Activity Coordinator do in a care home?
There is an amazing range of different activities available at the care homes of today – these are just a few of the more common options that Activities Coordinators may include in their programme:
- Arts and crafts
- Reading and poetry
- Language classes
- Singing and music activities
- Chair-based exercise
- Yoga or Pilates
- Pub quizzes
- Movie nights
- Board game nights
- Trips to the theatre
- Excursions to nearby towns or places of interest
A diverse activities programme is an absolute must – not everyone likes to do the same things and a reduced list of options available might risk isolating residents.
If a resident has been sitting away from the group and seems reluctant to participate, an activities coordinator should approach them to ask whether there are any activities they particularly want to try, in a gentle and non-confrontational manner.
The life of an Activities Coordinator is a busy one – and you should expect to be on your feet a lot! However, there is never a dull moment and as a result of getting to know each resident and their likes and dislikes, the role can be really rewarding.
As the importance of overall physical and mental wellness becomes a greater focus in our care homes, the role of Activities Coordinator role will be essential to ensure that residents are happy, stimulated and have a great quality of life.