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Teaching older people in care, a point of view
Jun 3, 2017

First Taste – TOPIC = Teaching older people in care

Having worked in residential care homes for older people for the biggest part of my working life, I am extremely passionate about the quality of care each individual deserves and receives. Going into a care home is often perceived as the last vestiges of ‘home life’.

Home life is equally important to all of us; it is where we spend the biggest part of our lives, interacting socially and emotionally with family and friends, leading a pro actively independent life, developing skills and facing challenges along the way, enjoying life to the full. ‘Home life’ in residential care, should be no different, however, given certain complexities, this is not always as easily achievable as it sounds.

In 2008, I joined the team at Gernon Manor Care Home in Bakewell caring for 30 residents with a variety of physical and emotional issues; it was here that I also had my initial encounter with First Taste.

My curiosity got the better of me, particularly when the tutor from ‘First Taste’ had just arrived producing a beautiful array of fresh flowers and enough materials to teach anybody wanting to create a flower arrangement. The house was full of amazing floral creations by teatime.

From then on, I was hooked and became a student of TOPIC. With the support of First Taste and my manager I successfully completed all my units. Armed with the skills and confidence required to teach new subjects to older people, I was subsequently offered the post of activity coordinator, which I adored. Activities were a daily occurrence, often twice daily, the majority of which were tailored to meet individual needs.

Gardening, for which we came second in the local competition, arts and crafts, chair based exercise, singing, reminiscence days, Crosswords,  outings, film nights  to name but a few, were particular favourites, of which the majority of residents regularly participated.

In 2011 I was offered a position working in the community; as part of my role, I was given the opportunity to become a trainer, teaching staff how to deliver best practice in health and social care to older people living in the community. I successfully completed eight modules of PTLLS – Preparing to teach in Lifelong Learning Sector.

As a result, I now work for the NHS in the learning skills team as a clinical educator, teaching staff how to care for patients in a hospital environment, ensuring consistency in excellent standards of care and treatment.

Had anybody ever told me that I would one day become a teacher/educator/trainer, I have no doubt I would have laughed at the mere suggestion. However, I am utterly amazed at how much my life has changed since the day I met the flower lady from First Taste.

First Taste does not only provide teaching for older people in care, it provides teaching skills for anyone wishing to become involved in enhancing the quality of care and home life for older people.

For that…. I am, and always will be, truly thankful.

Sue Baldwin
Clinical Educator
Education Centre
Chesterfield Royal Hospital Foundation Trust