Lance Fairburn left behind a 30-year career in banking to become a support worker at the Enliven Day Programme and he’s never been so happy! He wakes up with a smile every morning, and goes to work with a spring in his step.
“I left banking because the stress was getting on top of me. Now even my own health has improved! It’s just coming to work knowing that you’ve got these people that you can help support and care for makes me feel good.”
The Day Programme at Enliven Counties Manukau currently cares for around 25 clients with ages ranging from 65 to 93. Most of the clients have been diagnosed with dementia, but a few have disabilities or are recovering from stroke. The Day Programme allows them to receive personalised support in a friendly setting where they can have the benefits of a social environment as well.
“You must get to know your clients. Everyone can have a different health issue . It’s something we need to learn and care for as well.”
Lance’s day starts when he rides out with the Enliven van to pick up clients, some of whom could be living as far as Otara in the north or Drury in the south. Throughout the day, clients are treated to fun activities like indoor bowls, ten-pin bowling and scatter board. A game of tennis using balloons is hugely popular and guarantees loads of laughter, while a round of Hangman keeps the brain engaged and active.
“We make it fun and get everyone involved. Clients watch each other and they get encouraged. If they go off into a corner of the room we try and include them and have fun.”
Music and movement provides an afternoon of pleasure and entertainment as well. Some would clap their hands and sing along, while others would get up and dance.
The programme serves morning and afternoon tea and lunch which the staff prepare themselves. On a sunny day, they might go to a nearby park for a picnic. The outdoors does wonders for the clients. A lot of them miss pottering around their garden so there will be herb-planting and gardening activities when the weather improves.
As there are around 25 clients at any one time, managing them can be a challenge. Lance builds rapport with each one, familiarises himself with their unique needs, and gets to know their families.
The staff write progress reports daily to note how the clients are doing. Any concerns are brought up with the Team Leader or Enliven management and the family.
“They’re their own individuals, you don’t want to take away what they’re capable of doing. You want to encourage them to find out things for themselves. But at the end of the day I’m happy just to see them laugh. I know they’ve had a good day.”
Lance had been wanting a change in his career for a long time. He watched his mum take care of her own father until he passed on, in spite having a full-time job and running her own household. Caring for other people is something Lance had grown up with and would like to do for others.
“Sitting in an office is great but when you’re working with people, it’s just different. It’s completely worthwhile.”
His passion and enthusiasm got him the job, and now Lance is currently aiming for a Level 3 Certificate.
“Enliven have been very good to me. We have a fantastic team leader who’s always pushing me and encouraging me. The support we get is really good.”
Lance’s partner has noticed the change in him too— he’s no longer stressed, and is more happy and relaxed.
“Here we all get on so well it’s like a family. It feels like I go home to one family, and come back to another family. I just love it so much.”