Getting your hands dirty and finding out about life at the cutting edge!
The whole Executive Committee at Abbeyfield have done just that, after being challenged by CEO Natasha Singarayer to spend a ‘Work Day’ in one of our 517 sheltered supported houses and care homes in an initiative called ‘Walking Together’.
And Natasha herself swapped her hectic daily round of discussions, meetings and decision-making for the equally hectic job of an Abbeyfield house manager at Abbeyfield House Cheam in Sutton
House manager there Jean Thompson was on hand to show Natasha the ropes in every aspect of her job – from preparing and serving a three-course meal to residents, to booking in visitors for Abbeyfield’s annual Coping at Christmas campaign. She also enjoyed one of the most important aspects of every Abbeyfield member of staff or volunteer – listening and talking to residents.
Natasha said: “I have learnt so much from my day as house manager at Nonsuch – much more than I would simply from a director’s report.
“It was a real privilege for me to be able to meet so many fascinating and lovely people, including our residents, Abbeyfield volunteers and staff – all of whom are trailblazers in going that extra mile for older people.
“At Abbeyfield we are proud to make a difference to older people’s lives. Mucking in with the team and having time to talk to those at the hub of the action has given me a massive insight into the real issues that matter – which are continuing to do all we can to help older people, how we can best support them and enriching their lives at a time when they need it most.”
House manager Jean Thompson said: “The role of house manager is so important. Being a house manager is like being your mum – and just how important is your mum?
“It’s not just about cooking, making doctor’s appointments and making sure everyone is safe and secure, it’s about being there for residents and providing companionship. You listen to them, encourage them, you help them with any problems – you love them basically. For me, it’s going the extra mile to make our residents feel loved and special and wanted. A lot of older people just don’t have that in their lives – they are on their own. We make it fun for them, we spoil them rotten.
“It was an absolute joy having Natasha to visit. She did a fantastic job and was quick to roll up her sleeves and get stuck in preparing vegetables and serving lunch to our residents who thoroughly enjoyed talking with her.”
Cheam House resident Audrey Field, 89, said of the Abbeyfield CEO: “Natasha was a real people person and we were delighted she chose to visit us. It quickly felt as though she was part of our ‘family’ here and we hope she’ll come back again soon. We were very impressed with her culinary skills. Her cooking was very tasty.”
Abbeyfield is a charity with volunteering at its heart, with an army of over 4,000 dedicated volunteers supporting us. Natasha has volunteered since childhood, and is a strong believer in the importance of volunteering and community work.
“It’s through giving your time that you hear the conversations about what exactly is happening and how we can continue to make a difference to older people’s lives,” she said. “I have had such a lovely time meeting everyone at Nonsuch. We are so privileged to look after the elderly. They have lived such interesting lives.”
Natasha will report on her day to the Executive Committee, who have all spent a ‘work day’ in an Abbeyfield House too as part of the ‘Walking Together’ initiative.
‘Walking Together’ will provide new insights into what Abbeyfield residents, staff and volunteers really think, and will be used to inform new initiatives and improvements on how we are managed to benefit our residents, staff and volunteers.