Lu Lawrence, the activity coordinator at Baycroft Flitwick Care Home has been shortlisted as a finalist in the Great British Care Awards.
The Awards pay tribute to those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding excellence within their field of work.
Lu was nominated in the category of ‘The Care Home Activity Organiser Award‘ by the Head of Baycroft last summer and had a finalist video call interview with the Awards Panel in November. Lu said:
“I feel touched to even be nominated as a finalist, but to win would be an incredibly overwhelming, fingers crossed!”
As the activity coordinator at Baycroft Flitwick Care Home, Lu’s role is to develop and oversee an active living programme for each resident. These tailored plans support mobility, social contact, independence, and fun.
Lu said that this means each resident she supports can thrive and live to their full potential.
She started to research dementia a few years ago after her Nanna was diagnosed with the syndrome. Lu said:
“I worked at a dementia specialist unit as a carer and just naturally offered and facilitated activities within their day-to-day life during my care shifts, it’s just a natural thing in life isn’t it?
“My parents always brought me up around fun activities and social engagement. It made me feel so sad and guilty that these residents were just sitting around all day watching TV, when I could offer meaningful activities, even if it was only for five minutes.
“I was eventually offered the ‘activity coordinator’ role, full time which I just absolutely loved and with the experience, was employed by Baycroft.”
Lu recently completed a dementia champions programme with Tim Dallinger, which she’s been able to implement her new knowledge into her work, “I’m always thinking three steps ahead“.
She added that it’s important to get to know each resident; who they are, what life experiences have they had? Jobs? Important events? Family? Hobbies? Interest? Likes? Dislikes? What’s on your bucket list? Do they have any impairments? Physical disabilities? What do I need to adjust or add to an activity, to make sure you are included?
This ensures that she can create an activity and socialising care plan and offer meaningful activities in an environment of their choice in the way the resident would like to be supported:
“For example, I support a lady who is cared for in bed, giving her the weekly activity rota wouldn’t be person centred, as all the group activities are in communal areas around the home, that she is unable to access.
“I have created her own 1:1 activity plan, of activities that are meaningful to her, and I am able to offer these to her, in the comfort of her own bed. It’s always trial and error and I always find different ways to prepare, organise, set up and offer an activity.
“I do think that the importance of activities in care is massively overlooked in general as a sector.”
Lu started work at Baycroft Flitwick two months before the first COVID lockdown. So she hadn’t got used to a particular routine and as she was still trialling ideas there was a lot of flexibility:
“I enjoy having the freedom to come up with ideas and try them out. The absence of families and the restrictions of going out, played a massive part in everyone feeling quite low and days felt repetitive.
“I supported some residents living with dementia that still don’t know that we’ve been through the COVID-19 pandemic and can’t seem to understand why we/family have to wear a face mask, gloves and apron all day.
“I spent so much time on Pinterest, finding different activities that I could offer within the home, when really, a lot of residents just wanted to sit with me, with a cup of a tea and have a chat or go for a walk in the garden.
“Keeping the residents connected with their family and loved ones has been such a big priority. With all the additions implemented to control possible COVID-19 cases, we are very lucky to have only had five COVID-19 cases since March 2021.”
Lu has various projects ready for the summer. This week is National Hydration Week, and she has devised daily group activities of different ways to hydrate:
“Staying hydrated is so important and it doesn’t have to be a glass of water or a cup of tea. Iced coffees, sundaes, watermelon pizzas, smoothie shots, mocktail making and jelly drops. It’s tradition during this week, to throw a tea party on the Wednesday.
“I have decided to do ‘mad hatter’ style in the garden with lots of extravagant decorations and themed dining & games.”
There is a garden project, called ‘At One with Nature’, which aims to improve residents’ mood, sleep, and appetite through introduction of activities connecting residents to nature.
An ongoing project is ‘Playlist for life’, a Spotify account with individual play lists for each resident, who enjoy music.
Lu would also like to throw a summer garden BBQ, with all relatives/residents/staff and people who have supported with activities over the past 16 months:
“Obviously, I would only be able to facilitate this following the government guidelines, but this would be amazing!”
The awards ceremony will be on 23 July 2021 in Peterborough.