Welcome to our series introducing you to the members of the Dementia Adventure team, helping you to get to know the wonderful individuals who work here. Last time you met Head of Adventures Catherine. This week we introduce the fantastic Karen!
Job Title: Adventures Coordinator
Team: Adventures Team
Strengths: Ability to connect with others, which comes in handy on phone calls and enquiries! It helps them feel safe and able to open up so that I can better understand their needs. Humour. 20 years of working in the health and social care sector and working with people in vulnerable places in their lives.
How long have you been working at Dementia Adventure?
6 months. I started in February.
What does your job involve?
Doing a lot of the planning and organising beyond the scenes to make the holidays happen. So, booking activities for the itinerary, liaising with the accommodations, speaking with the people we’re taking on holiday and ensuring we’ve got everything in place to meet their needs, gathering information for risk assessment — among other things! Then I tie all of that information up in a clear little parcel and communicate it to the team that are supporting each holiday.
I sit on the Safeguarding Panel as well. We make sure we’re doing everything we can to safeguard and protect the people that are on holiday with us.
What’s your favourite part of the role?
Definitely talking to people and hearing their stories, and figuring out what we can do to give them the break they’re looking for. The holidays give people hope, and it feels nice to be able to do that for somebody. In a lot of my previous roles I’ve been problem-focused, reactively trying to help people who are in a vulnerable place deal with an issue. What’s nice about this job is we’re giving people a bit of hope, and that feels really nice. There’s a really positive aspect to what we do.
Best part of working at Dementia Adventure?
I would say it’s the supportive team culture that exists here. Everyone mucks in and helps out, and if you have any issues it feels very open and inclusive. Also, I like seeing the bringing together of everyone’s respective expertise. Because we’re a smaller organisation you can see how it all fits together. I feel privileged to work in such an inspiring natural setting, as well. The office is based on a working farm in the Essex countryside. I feel quite lucky when I drive in and see the view and watch how that changes across the seasons. It’s a reminder every day of what we do and why, and the importance of connecting with nature.
What’s something you’ve done recently that you’re proud of?
Working with the team to revise the questions that we ask people who are coming away on holiday with us and update them, sharpening them up even more. It’s satisfying, because I can look at the list and know that what we’re asking will ensure we have all the information we need to look after people and give them a positive, safe, happy experience.
If you had to swap roles with someone else on the team for a day, who would it be and why?
I think probably one of the Communications Team, because what they do is so alien to what I do in my role! I’ve always been embedded in people-facing support roles, but with comms it’s about getting the message out. That would be interesting to learn about.
You volunteered on your first Dementia Adventure holiday recently! How did you find that?
It was amazing! It was really good fun — on a personal level I really enjoyed all the activities! More importantly it’s helped me enormously with my job, seeing the holiday in practice and how my planning and organisation comes together in real time. It was also good fuel for my job; it reminded me of why I do it. It’s very easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day of what is essentially an at-the-desk role. I’m not necessarily always connected to the end result, so to see the impact it had first-hand on people living with dementia and their carers was really powerful.
And finally — chocolate or vanilla?
It has to be chocolate.