Working within the same home for 33 years is a huge achievement; and it’s one that Marilyn Knight, Activities Coordinator at Barchester’s Red Oaks Care Home in West Sussex, has relished. During her time at Red Oaks, Marilyn has enjoyed developing her skills through the ongoing career opportunities provided.
“I used to be a chef in London.” Marilyn explains, “But once I moved to Sussex, I knew I wanted to try something different. There were two care homes in the local village and as working in care really interested me, I applied for a role. My first role in the care home was as a care assistant. I started by working just one night a week, but slowly built my hours up to four nights.”
Marilyn had been working very happily as a care assistant for 15 years in the home when an activities coordinator opportunity arose. “I liked the idea of a new challenge, but as I wanted to stay in a care home environment the role really appealed to me.”
Marilyn believes the Activities Coordinator role in a care home is pivotal in bringing the staff, residents and their families together. “Everyone who works in a home can offer something to the residents; from cooking lessons lead by the Chef, to sewing and knitting from the housekeeping team – whoever you are, if you work in the home you can help with activities! One of the most popular groups we ever had was led by our Maintenance Manager,” Marilyn continued, “He worked with a group of residents to lay decking and sand down furniture. They all thoroughly enjoyed themselves while improving our outdoor area.”
“Activities haven’t really changed over the last 25-30 years, but you do need to adapt them on a monthly or weekly basis depending on your resident’s abilities. Marilyn explains, “For example, over time a crossword club might need to change from using words to doing something with pictures. This enables our residents to continue to get a sense of achievement through hobbies they enjoy.”
Trips out of the home are always popular and a great opportunity for the residents to go to places they haven’t been to for a while, or even visit somewhere new. “The home started as a retirement home for 65 retired gardeners,” said Marilyn. “We used to take them away for a week-long holiday each year, but as the resident’s abilities have changed over the years, it’s no longer possible. But we still have wonderful trips out with our dementia residents.”
Marilyn is always looking for new ways to support activities. “We took one of our resident’s deep-sea fishing and helped another to attend her grandson’s wedding; which meant so much to both the resident and their family.”
“I am really proud of having been with Red Oaks for over 30 years” says Marilyn. “The team, the residents and their families make every day different and fun.”