November’s Activity Manager of the Month

Written by Active Minds on Wednesday the 27th of November 2013.


Active Minds awards Activities Manager of the Month for November 2013 to Wendy Ward.

Wendy works at Ashford House in Stanwell, Middlesex, where she has been the Activities Manager for four years.

She won the Barchester Activities Co-ordinator Award for 2013 and she has recently been awarded a Level 2 Award in Supporting Activity Provision in Social Care (QCF) which took 6 months to complete.

How many individuals do you care for, and what does your average day look like?

Hectic! In the morning I greet everyone, and hand out the morning papers. Then it’s time for the morning activity, and then lunch. In the afternoon we have another activity session and I do one-on-one sessions too, at least twice a week.

Ashford House is an all-dementia home with a total of fifty-four residents, and my average day can involve any number of activities from mini-bus trips with the groups to cooking and end-of-life one-on-one sensory activities. There are lots of activities we do, like Pat the Dog, and there’s also a music sing-along every Wednesday afternoon.

We also do an activity based around the tradition of each month, or of a seasonal celebration such as Remembrance Day, bonfire night, harvest festival and Christmas. We also do a number of art activities with residents such as using Active Minds Aquapaint and Paint Project. I find painting really can engage most people at most levels of dementia. The residents seem to find freedom in using a brush.

Which activity do you do with those you care for that you see the most engagement from?

I guess I’d say cooking. Cooking allows all levels of dementia residents to get involved; from putting paper cases into the cake tins, helping to beat the eggs, stirring the cake mix, and the sensory elements – smells from vanilla essence, lemon essence etc. And the smell of the cakes baking.

All the sensory aspects of cooking, but especially the smells, help to encourage interaction. I think at first the men are always a little unsure about it, but most of the time they’ll go from initially saying “No no no” to the idea of cooking, to “Okay, maybe I should learn to do some cooking” – something just clicks. All the residents get to enjoy whatever they’ve baked, and everyone can sit together eating items such as their very own cheese straws, and sip on some wine.

When you are having a trying time, what keeps you going?

I keep smiling, because you know it’s for the residents at the end of the day.

Just being with the residents and seeing their smiling faces… Even with one smile you know you know you’ve engaged, even if for just a moment, for their level of dementia. That keeps me going.

I am passionate about giving all our residents a fun and happy time while at Ashford House.

What do you enjoy most about caring?

I love all the activity organising, and then being out with all our residents.

I recently fundraised for a new Summer House in the garden here at Ashford House, and a new 6ft tall water fountain! Every Friday during the summer months we host a cream tea in the Summer House. The garden really helps to promote independence now but I’d still like to do a lot more with it. I am now fundraising for traditional galvanised pots and garden furniture. Traditional items like that help to make residents feel at home and reminisce about times past.

Congratualtions and many thanks to Wendy!