Hallmark Carehomes
An honest interview with Kirsty, Lifestyle’s Leader at Bucklesham Grange Care Home

28 August 2020

An honest interview with Kirsty, Lifestyle’s Leader at Bucklesham Grange Care Home

Kirsty Thomas has been the Lifestyles Leader at Bucklesham Grange Care Home in Ipswich since it opened in 2012. We spoke to Kirsty to find out what it means to provide meaningful activities and what makes her proud to work at the industry-leading, residential and dementia home.

What does the role of a Lifestyles Leader entail?

The role of Lifestyles Lead entails a variety of jobs, not just co-ordinating activities, but supporting the whole team to engage with the residents. Creating an exciting, tailored activities programme is so important to myself and my team and we run up to 21 activities a week. We try to be as creative as possible and listen to feedback from the residents about what activities they would like us to plan.

I am also involved in the training across all departments in the home and I’m passionate about team development too. Part of my role as a lead is supporting the development of the lifestyles team.

What does a usual day at Bucklesham Grange look like for you?

My usual day at Bucklesham Grange starts with taking a walk around the communities, saying hello to all the residents and team members. I then put out books, turn on the music and prepare for a day of activities at the home. Each day, I have a morning meeting with my lifestyles team and we discuss the activities and events planned that day. The day could be virtually cycling to France, hosting a street carnival or a Hawaiian cocktail party. The opportunities are endless!

How has the lifestyles provision changed since COVID-19?

COVID turned our world upside down, but I am immensely proud how the team and residents have adapted to the changes together. At first, the lifestyles team created personalised activities boxes for each resident, updating them at least weekly. We created an activities station where team members could pick up resources to engage with residents 1-2-1 and we tried to do as many things mobile as possible. We had a mobile bar, karaoke on wheels and so much more. Now we have been able to reintroduce small socially distanced activities such as relaxation and meditation class, arts and crafts, afternoon tea’s and we are starting to get ready for our internal, company-wide gardening competition, Hallmark in Bloom.

How do you keep residents connected with their loved ones?

We have purchased several iPads to support our residents to have video calls with their friends and family, daily if they wish! We have also installed an app called RelsApp. This app is exclusive to Bucklesham Grange and our other Hallmark care homes and allows families and residents to send each other messages, pictures and videos which can be replayed again at a later date.

How do you ensure that all residents embrace the activities programme on offer?

The most important thing about our lifestyles provision is ensuring that we know the residents well and include them in the planning of our activities as much as possible. When a new resident moves into Bucklesham Grange, they fill out an about me book which allows us to get to know their personal history and likes and dislikes so we have a good idea of the types of things that they enjoy. Our activities are always adapting and evolving to meet the resident’s needs.

Do you have a personal highlight in your role?

A personal highlight in my role would definitely be creating and developing the Thomas Tool. The Thomas Tool, identifies residents at risk of social isolation, assesses their level of risk and then considers how to support each individual through activity in a way that’s right for them. The Thomas Tool has been implemented in all of our Hallmark homes and I am so proud of the impact it has had on the teams and ultimately the residents.

What makes you proud to work at Bucklesham Grange?

I am proud to work at the home because of the relationships that have developed between the team and residents. We have amazing relationships, value and respect each other and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I am also proud of our accomplishments, but also the challenges we have faced together, as a family.

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