In an unusual about-turn, staff at a dementia care home in Somerset have been receiving help in doing their jobs from the residents they support – all as part of a recent initiative aimed at boosting the sense of usefulness of those being cared for.
The upside-down work experience programme sparked memories and conversation among the residents of Camelot House and Lodge in Wellington about the jobs they used to do, both paid and unpaid.
They were offered a range of simple tasks to volunteer for, including folding laundry, doing woodwork, food preparation, working in the office and serving in the bar.
A job ad posted by staff in the home’s Windsor Arms bar was eagerly responded to by Mavis Treece and Ken Hinks, resulting in Mavis serving other residents and wiping down the bar, and Ken helping to close up and mopping the floor.
Activities co-ordinator, Richard Dempslake, said:
“Both of them really enjoyed their jobs – and the drinks they had afterwards. And Ken said he liked getting his hands dirty.
“The aim of the initiative was to give our residents something to do that would bring a real sense of purpose with it.
“That’s so important for people living with dementia – and it’s our job to come up with activities like this to maintain and enhance their sense of self-worth.
“Most of them regularly tell us they are of a generation when they “didn’t mind a bit of hard work” and liked to do their part.”
Maureen Taverner, whose husband Rai enjoyed doing some woodwork, said:
“Rai always liked doing DIY. He didn’t have a hobby as he used to say he never had the time. His passion was for woodwork and enhancing our home.”
Resident David Diggle also became fully engaged in a woodwork project which involved assembling a bird house from pre-prepared timber.
And John Bates, who used to work in software programming, was invited to the manager’s office to compare aspects of his job with hers and that of the deputy manager. John shared that he didn’t have the luxury of a dedicated office since his job involved a lot of travel, with him giving presentations and showing other companies how to use the products.