The Importance of Front Line Staff Engagement
Over the past two years, as we’ve been delivering co-creative sessions and projects alongside people living with dementia in the care home setting, we’ve learnt just how important the engagement and support of the front line care staff is to the success of the sessions. It can be a bit weird and out of the ordinary routine when we turn up with our piles of equipment for making art and music, and staff at the care home can feel reticent to begin with, wondering quite how this will all work out. Sometimes staff express doubts that service users will join-in, and there’s often some doubtful glances passing between staff. We take a jamming approach to delivering the sessions and this can seem a bit strange too, as it can look like there’s little structure and we’re making it up as we so along – which we are (it’s a jam after all) but we do know what we’re doing.
However, once we get going with the session and staff see how people are engaging and enjoying the activities as we all get jamming together, the reticence starts to disappear. The proof is in seeing things work and staff seeing the service users they care about joining-in, working together and laughing, is enough to persuade them to embrace the weirdness and join-in too. Over and over in these sessions, we see this pattern – and the enthusiasm and engagement of the care and activity staff is pivotal to having a great jam. Staff know their service users, they are sensitive to the needs and preferences of individuals and they can bring the great weight of their focus and skills in personalisation and caring to the jam.
Our increasing understanding of the pivotal role of care staff in the sessions, has led us to developing our new care home jamming kits. We figured that if we could create tracks to offer the musical framework and training to arm staff with the tools and techniques they need, then front line staff could bring their skills as carers and get music jam sessions happening themselves.
The kits are launching on the first of May as a digital bundle of downloadable tracks and an online course … exciting! We just want to get more fun, engaging jamming happening in the care home – bringing people together to make music and bringing a real sense of achievement for everyone.