What do you remember about your day when you go to bed each evening?

It’s not the daily tasks that stay in our memory, the fact that we cleaned our teeth, showered, ate a sandwich for lunch. What we remember are those moments we spend doing something that we love, find interesting or something that makes us feel physically better, like playing sport, reading a great book or baking a spectacular cake.

It is the same for the people who live with Anchor. They want all those daily tasks to happen seamlessly, but they also want their days to be full of things they enjoy, and to have wonderful things to look forward to.

Planning activities which are really tailored to our customers’ lives and interests is key to providing a stimulating and inclusive atmosphere at all our care and retirement housing locations.

It’s not always easy to find activities to support some of our customers with more challenging needs, but we have some fantastic colleagues who work tirelessly to find out about customers’ lives and interests.

The Anchor Customer Engagement Team are currently running some regional activity days, bringing care colleagues together to support them in planning great activities, and to help them share their ideas which will ensure that we remain at the leading edge of innovative activities.

Our activities for the elderly are tailored to the individual

We have heard some fantastic examples of how activity can support even the most isolated customers. One of our care home Hospitality Managers based in London recently gave us an example of how challenging it was to find activities that would engage with a customer who came to live with Anchor with acute alcohol dependency, and after previously being homeless. This individual was very depressed and lonely, and with no previous opportunities for hobbies or leisure interests, it was difficult to identify suitable activities. However, by liaising with their social worker, the Hospitality Manager was able to discover that whilst homeless, they had enjoyed feeding the birds. This created opportunities to plan trips to the local park where they could once again enjoy this activity. By putting bird feeders and a bird table in the garden, further opportunities to enjoy this past-time were created.

We should never set our sights too low when planning activities for the elderly and Anchor Activity Coordinator Sarah didn’t hold back when it came to planning 104th birthday celebrations for Joan, a resident in Wellingborough. Joan loves to watch Mastermind every week, and Sarah wrote to the presenter John Humphrys telling him how much a card from him would mean to Joan. John went a step further and made a telephone call to Joan on her birthday, chatting to her and her family for over 40 minutes and making the day truly memorable.

There are lots of resources available both in the local community and nationally, and Sheffield based Activity Coordinator Bluebell took advantage of these when she applied for funding as part of O2’s ‘Think Big Challenge’. The project aimed to fund community projects that challenge perceptions of ageing. The bid was successful and a major reason for this was because customers had been involved in deciding what they would like to do with the money if they were successful. As a result, customers living in Bluebell’s care home will soon be enjoying street dance lessons from a professional street dance group who are also going to perform some of their routines. Customers are also going to be recording a music video. Bluebell said she felt that they had been successful in their bid because “we recognised that customers in care homes still have aspirations and like to try new things.”

Getting all colleagues involved in delivering activities has also been key to the success at her care home. ‘We all work together as a team,’ said Bluebell. When residents decided they would like to hold a 1930s cocktail party, many colleagues helped plan and run it, with a group of volunteers even going to cocktail-making classes to make sure they could host a spectacular evening.

The Customer Engagement Team offer Anchor colleagues across all of our retirement housing and care home locations support and guidance linked to activity and customer consultation, which in turn helps increase customer satisfaction. They offer a wide range of advice including how to set up social committees and residents’ associations, help launch volunteer programmes, support iPad activities, show colleagues how to plan innovative activities and events linked to the Anchor Community Calendar, and support customers with elearning, for example, facilitating food hygiene courses so they successfully run their own food-related activities.

By getting this right we transform peoples’ lives, improve their health and well-being and make every day memorable.

Brenda Metcalfe is Anchor’s Customer Engagement Manager

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