Caroline Whyman is Gracewell of Ascot's Activities Coordinator. Having started her new role in August 2020, Caroline has made a huge impact at the care home and is already a favourite among residents and her fellow team members.
Before joining the care home, Caroline enjoyed a long career in the motor racing industry, working for McLaren’s Formula One team for 27 years and then at Mark Blundell Partners, where she organised events and hospitality services at motor races for corporate clients.
Asked what spurred her to move into the care sector, Caroline said that her own grandmother lived with dementia for a number of years and so she had personal experiences of the challenges that the illness can bring for the individual and their family. And, after being placed on furlough and then being made redundant from her previous role, Caroline thought it was a wonderful opportunity to join the care industry and to support her community. Having travelled extensively throughout her career, Caroline says that she was also looking for stability in her professional life and to take a new direction. It was at this time that the Activities Coordinator role became available at Gracewell of Ascot.
Speaking of when she first saw the role advertised, Caroline said:
“When I read the job description, it occurred to me that my experience working within the high-end corporate world should easily transfer over into the care sector world if I was given the opportunity. Luckily for me, Raina Jordan, the care home’s General Manager, was willing to take a calculated risk on me and I am so grateful she did.”
Since joining, Caroline has loved how her role is highly personal and involves close interaction with the residents. “I have fallen in love with our residents as if they are members of my own family”, she said. Adding, “they are the most wonderful individuals, all with different personalities, experiences and needs. I have found that I can bring them laughter, a little joy and lots of love in this role, which is very special indeed.”
At Gracewell of Ascot, Caroline’s main responsibility is to provide a programme of varied and stimulating activities that meet the needs of the care home’s residents. She also provides an important non-medical link between the residents’ welfare, mental health and physical health. Speaking of her role, she said, “we learn about their lives and thoughts, not only to offer a shoulder to lean on but to recognise any significant changes in behaviour or mood. By flagging any noticeable changes or comments to the wider team, we are able to respond and adapt our approach more promptly.”
However, with social distancing measures in place since she joined the care home, Caroline has had to adapt the type of activities she can offer to residents. “As we are currently unable to bring entertainers into the home, the role of the Activities Coordinator has been to absorb some of the activities they might ordinarily deliver, such as singing, exercise, arts & crafts, gardener, etc.
“We’ve also introduced a lovely Christmas light garden in December for the residents, a staff song and dance show, a weekly French Club, book club, Gent’s Chess & Whisky Tasting Club as well as the usual garden walks, online exercise classes, concerts and singing, so it is a pretty full and varied programme. Whilst not new, the residents all love a quiz and singing which are both great for their mood and memory. Yet for me, the most important activity is to talk to the residents one-to-one, constantly checking-in on how they are feeling. There is nothing like a good chat!”
Asked what advice she would give to others who are considering pursuing a career as an Activities Coordinator in a care home, Caroline said:
“As with all care positions, the Activities Coordinator role is one of dedication and vocation rather than just a job. In order to provide the best environment for your residents, you need to be willing to give all of yourself, perhaps more than most roles require. However, the rewards are the delight and joy that you can bring to people who absolutely deserve all the respect and happiness you can provide to them in their twilight years.”
Raina Jordan, General Manager at Gracewell of Ascot, said:
“Caroline goes over and above to ensure that every resident has quality activity time. Her patience and sense of humour quickly established her as a much-loved team member amongst residents and her laughter is heard throughout the home numerous times a day.
Caroline has the ability to bring the best out of people and residents always look forward to activities with her. She has a big heart and is a huge asset to Gracewell of Ascot.”
To find out more about Gracewell of Ascot, click here.