The Jewel in our Crown

What really makes the difference at Barnes Court is a sense of fun and community which has been fostered by their Activities Co-ordinator Sue Hutchinson.

Since joining the team at Barnes Court last year Sue has become a welcome part of the residents’ every-day lives, helping to keep their minds and bodies active through daily activities ranging from simple board games to parties and day-trip to local events
With 66 beds across the home, Barnes Court caters for a huge range of both ages and abilities, providing nursing, residential and dementia care for the elderly as well as specialist care for young adults with physical disabilities. And that calls for a lot of variety when it comes to planning activities for everyone – a challenge which Sue relishes.  "We do have a wide range of abilities here, so, we have to deliver a variety of activities and hobbies to suit everyone,” she says. 
These include pool, sports afternoons, quizzes, bingo, cards, knitting, audio books and a lot more besides.
“We have animal therapy, so we’ve had tortoises and donkeys coming into the home to visit the residents. We book singers and entertainers to come in and perform on a regular basis, and we organise trips out along the coast to Beamish. I try and think of anything I can to get everyone involved.”

The home also has its own minibus allowing residents to enjoy day trips out to places like Preston Park, Dunes Bowling Alley, Pool Hall, Metro Centre, Penshaw Tea Rooms and South Shields Beach. And with a large garden, residents who enjoy cultivating their green fingers can take part in the gardening club.
And it’s not just the residents that get a kick out of her work – after taking up the role following years working for the Royal Voluntary Service, delivering community sessions across the north east, Sue knew this was what she wanted to do.
“I really enjoy it – I get paid to make people smile so it’s the best job in the world as far as I’m concerned,” she says.
And while not everyone can take part in the day trips or sports days, Sue makes sure to get round each and every resident one-on-one every day to make sure those that need more sedate activities – or those that just prefer a quiet time – have plenty to do as well, from audio books and apps to reminiscing about days gone by.

Home manager Mandy Mackley described Sue as “the jewel in our crown” and said: “Sue is a well-loved member of the team not just by our residents who look for Sue every morning to catch up on the Daily Sparkle and find out what activities are planned, but also by the home staff and regional team.”
“All the residents feel they can come to me if they want to do something,” says Sue. “It’s so important that there’s always something to do as an option. Obviously they can say no, but to not have that option there just leaves them with nothing.
“The more people that choose to do something, it encourages other people to have a go. It’s very social as well – we encourage all our residents to socialise with each other, and I always try to keep it in the back of my mind who would get on with each other, and who have common interests but who might never speak to one another.”

All this work has ensured that Barnes Court has a friendly atmosphere which makes for a safe and comfortable life for those living there and they are always welcoming visitors.

Anyone wanting to find out just how much the home has to offer is encouraged to go along and enjoy a cup of tea and a chat with Mandy and Sue and see for yourself what all of the fuss is about.

To find out more or to arrange a visit either pop into the home or give us a call on 0191 283 3962.