“The most engaging, motivational and high-energy day in the history of Colten Care.” That’s how our latest Companionship Conference has been described by one senior attendee.
The all-day event, at the AFC Bournemouth football stadium, brought together 99 members of our Companionship team to share good practice, learn what each other does in support of our residents, and have some fun.
In what was a highly interactive get-together, colleagues representing all our homes discussed the benefits of inter-generational activities, music and art, and new technologies as part of residents’ care.
It was also a chance for the organisers – our four Senior Companionship Team Leaders Donia O’Connor, Ellie Peters, Emily Hudson and Ben Benson-Breen – to explain team structure and processes, discuss the homes they look after, and answer questions from the floor.
Donia, who is responsible for Amberwood House, Fernhill, Brook View, The Aldbury, Avon Cliff and Canford Chase, said: “Organising the conference was a lot of hard work but the result was brilliant. Every minute was worthwhile and it was amazing to see the smiles on people’s faces as they took part.”
Fiona Pritchard, our Music & Arts Partner, presented on some of the therapeutic approaches she takes to residents’ care and how music and art can help to address feelings of isolation and anxiety.
She said: “Everyone came ready and willing to share their experience and ideas. It was a really informative and fun day. The companionship role is to interest, invigorate and enthuse and that’s what the conference showed.”
In other presentations, one of our Admiral Nurses, Tracy Logan, discussed various approaches to communicating with people who have dementia. Our Consultant Admiral Nurse Adam Smith and Quality Manager Jo Croft also gave a session on how positive risk assessment can help residents to enjoy meaningful activities.
Operations Director Elaine Farrer said: “Our Companions are such enthusiastic and creative people, and everybody at the conference participated. That made it, from my point of view, the most engaging, motivational and high-energy day in the history of Colten Care.
“It was an ideal chance to get together and show we value what our Companionship Team do and how important they are to the lives of our residents.
“One key point that was emphasised is that it’s not all about having a busy activities programme. Far from it – peaceful, one-to-one time is as valuable to many of our residents as going out on excursions or being in group activities. Everyone went away from the conference even more informed and energised about their role.”
An award in memory of our former Activities Manager Karen Burdon was presented to the Braemar Lodge Companionship Team for their ongoing work during a time of staff illness and maternity leave.
Ninety feedback forms were completed at the end of the conference. Ninety-six per cent of respondents said it had exceeded their expectations, 90% agreed the topics covered were interesting, helpful and relevant, and 92% felt the time spent was worthwhile.
Feedback showed a clear desire to come together more often to share good practice.
The role of our Companionship TeamWe want every one of our residents to feel happy and fulfilled in their lives.
Putting companionship at the very heart of our social care through a structured, dedicated team reflects our core values as a care provider and employer. It’s a prime example of us championing the individual and ensuring they are at the forefront of what we do every day.
Companionship can involve friendships around shared interests, going out, taking in events at the home, or simply a calming conversation from a welcome face – it comes in many different forms.
Our Companionship Team work closely with Home Managers and other colleagues to help our residents continue to enjoy their favourite things and make new friendships in their lives.
Burns’ Night wish comes true for Betty
Our Companionship Team works across all our homes to make residents feel special.
We actively encourage people to tell us about something they enjoy or want to see and we do our best to make it happen for them.
This has led to amazing ‘wish come true’ experiences for our residents, including a balloon ride, football stadium tours, a day at a motor racing circuit and participation in a Strictly Come Tea Dance in aid of Children in Need.
As the daughter of a Scottish Lord, Avon Reach resident Betty Butler has a personal interest in celebrating Burns Night. This year she was thrilled when the Companionship Team and the home arranged a visit on the day from a genuine Scots piper.
Betty, who has lived in the south for many years, said: “I can’t tell you what a wonderful time I have had today. Listening to the piper made me want to cry with happiness. I don’t feel so very far from home now.
“Although I may have lost my accent, I have remained Scottish through and through. Celebrating Burns Night is a part of me and this has made me happy beyond words.”