Post People: Life in a care home begins with a smile, says Dagenham worker

Caring: Sandra Emmery has worked at the home in Dagenham since 2006

Caring: Sandra Emmery has worked at the home in Dagenham since 2006 - Credit: Archant

Dedicated care home worker Sandra Emmery has organised activities for dementia patients at the Bennetts Castle residential home in Dagenham since 2006.

Here, the 48-year-old mum of Dagenham tells how her jobs a activity coordinator and home administrator have helped put a smile on the face of pensioners with debilitating conditions.

“Life in a care home does not have to be the end of life as we know it. For me it was the beginning of a new kind of life, a life where I have experienced every emotion possible but most of all hope, hope for the future.

Why? Because I work in a care home and I see first hand how good quality care is delivered and what a difference to a life a smile can make.

My life in care began in 2005 at my first care home in Romford. I started as an administrator but soon discovered I was happier in the company of the residents than crunching numbers.


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I transferred to the activity department and delivered an activity programme to suit a wide range of individuals living with dementia.

One year later and I felt confident enough to “go it alone” so I applied to Bennetts Castle Care Home in Bennett’s Castle Lane and gained the position of activity coordinator.

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The residents and staff made me feel at home and once I had got to know them all individually we started to live, not just exist.

Getting to know your residents is a key part of delivering first-class care; all of us have the right to be treated as an individual and this is no different for people who are trying to live with an irreversible medical condition.

I soon found that my life revolved around my work and even on a day off, I would end up with equipment for my activities in my shopping trolley instead of the coco pops for the kid’s breakfast!

Promoting and maintaining social well-being is an important part of social care. If we feel good on the inside it shows on the outside so my personal aim was to make as many residents smile as I could every day.

The more the residents smiled the more I smiled, it was contagious.

Soon not only were the residents smiling but they were also laughing, many of them at my expense, but if that’s what it takes then so be it.

Things move on and eventually so did I, back to crunching numbers as an administrator but still within Bennetts Castle. I can’t leave; it would be like leaving my family.”

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