Gap year student Maria Jimenez is delighting residents at a dementia care home in Bridgwater by playing her guitar to accompany impromptu karaoke sessions, as well as brightening their day by singing pop classics for them.
Eighteen-year-old Maria has taken on the role of activities assistant at Avalon Nursing Home during her gap year, inspired by her mum, Karen Jimenez who is a team leader for the healthcare assistants at the same home.
After taking her A Levels last summer at Richard Huish College in Taunton, Maria is taking a year out before university and hopes to learn new skills that she can use in other areas of her life and eventual career.
With music as her main hobby outside work, Maria says she “practically lives and breathes it.”
She is an accomplished singer and guitarist, used to public performances, and in her new job she loves being able to entertain the residents – and occasionally her colleagues too.
Maria said: “I chose to work at Avalon as I had an interest in looking after people, particularly in the psychological aspect, which had already led me to take Psychology for my A-levels.
“But I have always been a creative person, growing up with the arts and also being a musician myself, and when Mum told me there was a vacancy for an activities assistant at Avalon, I thought that doing this would give me valuable insights into what I’d really like to do with my future.
“I bring a lot of musically-related things to the table, being able to bring in musicians to perform in the home, as well as performing for the residents myself.
“Having only recently joined, I’m still developing my skills and capabilities, but I feel like I’m pretty good with catering to peoples’ needs as I also work in the hospitality industry, which I’ve been doing since I was 16.
“I hope I can be someone who can help Avalon’s residents live their best lives through the activities our co-ordinator Lisa and I plan and deliver, and I also hope to be able to contribute some new ideas that the residents will love.
“During the few weeks I’ve been here I’ve already learnt so much about care and the importance of activities for our residents, and I’m always keen to learn much more from Lisa, my other colleagues and the residents themselves.”