When people ask me what I do for a living, and I tell them my job title, most people say, “so you get to just sit around and colour in all day?”
Activity coordinating has been a massive part of my life for almost 13 years. Through the years I have had the pleasure of working with all walks of life.
I started by volunteering in a brain injury day centre, then a day centre for those with profound learning disability, then moved on to organising events for university students. Following this, I worked in a very large care home in Northern Ireland that included three separate wards (a dementia care unit, a mentally infirm and general nursing unit) while working there I also volunteered organising events for military families. Then finally I moved to Victoria House, which is a specialist brain injury rehabilitation home.
And throughout all these different places I have never once been asked to colour in with someone!
Even within the industry, the role of activity coordinator is misunderstood. It is commonly believed that the activity coordinator just does things like puzzles, art, games, etc. While this is part of the job, I do believe that if more people viewed activities as a form of therapy, then activities would play a greater, more successful role within care.
Officially speaking, activity therapy is the assistance with physical, cognitive, social, and spiritual activities with the main objective of improving the quality of the individual’s mental and physical health.
For me, activities are a therapeutic and person-centred approach that allows the residents to engage and improve on all aspects of their life. Being person centred and goal orientated is key to activity being a therapy. This is because if the activity is not person centred, the individual will not be engaged and there will be no therapeutic outcome. If there is no goal to achieve then is there really any point in doing the activity?
On the surface everything I do with my residents may appear (even to the individual/s participating) as “play” however it is a fact a very thought through, goal orientated therapeutic tool. I believe the greatest part of my job in seeing the work I have carried out making a positive difference in someone confidence and seeing the difference that one simple change can make to a person’s life.
Through a series of activities spanning over several months, I have been able to help someone who never left their room due to previous trauma and social anxiety, to blossom into someone who now attends all group activities even parties where there is lots going on and the noise level is raised. Even though this was a slow process and was a series of small steps with some drawbacks along the way, together we achieved the main goal. Not only am I proud to be able to say I helped make this difference in his life, but I am so majorly proud of him for achieving this goal and being the social person he deserves to be.
Through working for Renovo, I have been able to use my skills and experience to help change our residents’ lives for the better. Now when people ask me what I do for a living I simply answer, “I have the best job in the world because my job is to make people happy”.
- Aimee Clark is an activity coordinator at Victoria House, Farnborough.
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