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Archie Potts is a truly remarkable gentleman. A dedicated volunteer at Charnwood Lodge Dementia Care Home in Dumfries & Galloway, green-fingered Archie gives his every hour to making sure the gardens and grounds of the home give the residents a therapeutic area to enjoy. Building flower beds in summer, shovelling driveways in winter, and all for just a cup of tea in return. But what makes Archie’s story truly special? He does all this at the tender age of 87…
A retired insurance broker, Archie spent ten years as a carer for the wife of a dear friend, after promising he would look after her when his friend passed away. When she became a resident at Charnwood Lodge, he decided to give something back to the Care Home that took such wonderful care of his friend, and for the last year, has devoted himself to turning Charnwood Lodge’s outside area into a beautiful space.
Nicknamed ‘Iron Man’ by staff, Archie can often be found arriving at 5am to make the most of the home’s extensive gardens – weeding, cutting back trees, relaying paving stones, cleaning paths, gritting walkways, raking leaves, painting furniture – nothing is too much trouble for Archie. He’s also known for popping in on the weekends to make sure his precious flower boxes and hanging baskets are being tended to!
His commitment to Charnwood Lodge has more than paid off – residents can now enjoy spending time outside in a relaxing and positive environment. One particular resident found life in a care home difficult, becoming frustrated and anxious having lived a very independent life before his dementia diagnosis. This gentleman in particular has felt the benefits of landscaped and accessible gardens, enjoying the freedom the garden gives him to walk around and enjoy the sights, smells and sounds.
Away from the gardens, he spends hours chatting and laughing with residents, joining in with group activities such as music therapy and art classes. A passionate and inspirational man, Archie’s only motivation to give his time to Charnwood Lodge is to bring happiness to the residents there. “As long as I’m making a difference, I’m happy”, he tells the manager.
Jodie Holland, 21, works at Gilmorton Flats, a supported living tenancy in Leicester which supports 11 adults with learning disabilities to live independently in the community.
Earlier this year, Andrew, a tenant who Jodie was Key Worker to, received the sad news that he had terminal cancer. Despite being devastated by the news themselves, Jodie and her colleagues did not let their support falter and supported Andrew to come to terms with his challenging diagnosis. Jodie took her support one step further, by working with Andrew to create a ‘Bucket List’ of activities he would like to achieve and accomplish before he passed away.
The Bucket List contained a list of all of Andrew’s hopes and ambitions – ranging from the small, to go on a boat trip, to the immensely significant – getting back in touch with his brother who he had lost contact with, for regular lunches. Jodie supported him to achieve all of these goals – working tirelessly to make them happen. The pinnacle of Andrew’s bucket list was to take one last holiday – visiting the Lake Distict, a place Andrew had always wanted to visit due to his love of nature and the great outdoors. Jodie carefully planned a holiday that would involve all of his favourite pastimes, and went with him to ensure that not only did he have a great time, but that he was fully supported throughout.
He came back from his holiday relaxed, calm, and ready to face whatever his diagnosis would throw at him. The tenant unfortunately passed away shortly afterwards, but the devotion of Jodie and the staff team meant that he was fulfilled and happy when he passed away. Quote from Andrew’s brother: ‘It’s so nice to see that Andrew had a good life right to the end. Jodie and the staff at Gilmorton are so caring and looked after him so well. A big thank you.’
Within two years of working for our charity, Chrstine Cundall was recognised as Britain’s best care home worker at The Great British Care Awards. Her amazing success show’s that great care always begins with caring people.
When Christine applied for a job at EachStep Blackley, she had very little experience of working in care. She explains, “For many years I was the main carer for my mother, who lived with dementia. I felt passionately after this experience that supporting people with dementia was my vocation and that by working in care, I could give other people the same standard of support that I gave to my own mum.”
As a Care and Activity Worker at EachStep Blackley, its Christine’s role to provide people with both the physical and emotional care that they need, and also support them to enjoy full and active lives too.
She explains, “It’s not my job to do things for our residents, but to support them to do things for themselves – helping them to stay independent, happy and fulfilled. It’s a wonderful feeling to see the people we support continuing to do the things they love and getting involved in life in our service.”
“We work hard to understand the lives of every person we support - the things that they enjoy and the things that bring them comfort, and we bring this to the fore in their support. It’s our responsibility to keep whatever has always been important to a person – their family and friends, their religion, their favourite football team, or hobbies like music and gardening – part of their lives. When you do this, you’re seeing the person not their dementia.”
“Last year my family and I moved to Glasgow, from my home country of Italy. Relocating to Scotland was a big step, so I was keen to find a job that would help me to meet new people, as well as develop my talents.
One of my friends works at Elder Grove Place, a service supporting three people with learning disabilities, and they told me about a Support Worker vacancy that was coming up. I felt that as a naturally caring person, with a positive outlook, I could bring a lot to the role and I was very excited to apply for it.
Getting the job at Elder Grove has been one of the best experiences of my life.
As a Support Worker, it is my job to help John, Colin and Stephen, the three people who live at Elder Grove, to lead happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. Every day is different. My responsibilities can range from helping them to take medication, to supporting them to enjoy fun days out in the community and take part in music therapy sessions.
This has been my first experience of working in social care, so I was a little nervous at first. However, I’ve been given lots of support, encouragement and mentoring from my colleagues, as well as some great training. Hopefully, I’ve been able to give something back to the service too – my manager often praises my youthful outlook and enthusiasm, and I’ve really developed great relationships with everyone here.
To be a good support worker, you need to be caring, patient, attentive, and able to communicate well; my job has helped me to develop all of these qualities and many more. But most of all, I’ve found that working in care is an incredibly rewarding vocation – for me, there is no greater satisfaction than helping John, Colin and Stephen to be at their most independent and lead full and happy lives.”
“I’ve worked all my life as a warehouse man, driving all over the country. During those long days I’d looked forward to my retirement, but no sooner had it arrived, the novelty wore off! I hated having nothing to get up for in the mornings and soon found myself at a loose end. That’s when I started to think about what skills I could offer through volunteering.
“Lynda, the Manager at Ferncliffe Road, has been a friend for many years and so she suggested that I use my experience and volunteer to drive their mini-bus. I thought it was a great idea and I now volunteer five days a week, taking the guys out to whatever activities they have on; whether it be a few hours at their day centre, an afternoon shopping or even horse-riding lessons!
“Lots of people ask me why I’m not using my retirement to sit back and relax but that would leave me bored and restless. I love volunteering, it keeps me busy and I’ve made great friends with the staff at the service who all treat me like one of their team. I’ve got a lot of respect for what the support staff do; it’s a hard job and if I can make it a little bit easier by freeing up some of their time helping out with driving, then I’m quite happy!”