18th September 2023
Students from one of the country’s most prestigious state schools have spent their summer holidays supporting residents living with dementia.
Year 13 students Olivia Thomas, Anna Craig and Stephen Obure, all aged 17, from Pates Grammar School in Cheltenham, have been employed as wellbeing assistants at Wentworth Court which is home to 65 people living with moderate to advanced dementia.
The trio, who are applying for university places in medical disciplines this year, worked with the Wentworth Court team to support residents at mealtimes, with daily activities and trips around the local area.
Anna, who is studying biology, chemistry, maths and art at A level said: “The experience has been far more varied and fulfilling than I expected, and I have gained a much greater understanding of how memory issues can affect a person and how important it is to support people to enjoy a range of activities to enhance their quality of life.
“There have been many stand-out moments during my time at Wentworth Court, many of them during one-to-one conversations with residents about their lives. It’s a brilliant nursing home and I would recommend it to anyone who needs this kind of support.”
Stephen, who hopes train as a doctor, added: “I’ve enjoyed the variety that working at Wentworth Court has offered me. Every day is different from the last and I have loved the different kinds of activities I’ve been able to take part in with the residents, from music appreciation with the ukulele, to nail-painting to creating a new board game with a colleague for the residents to try. This has made the role very exciting for me.
“I think the most important thing I’ve learnt is that every resident is an individual with their own personal experiences and needs, and to take this into consideration when supporting them.
“I would like to say a massive thank you to Wentworth Court for the opportunity, I have loved it and looked forward to every day. The staff are superstars and have welcomed me with open arms.”
Potential medic Olivia reflected: “I’ll take away a lot of things, not only the importance of communication and personalised care but also the value of adaptability and accountability in teamwork. As my first job, I have learnt a lot about maturity and a glimpse into adulthood as well.
“I look forward to learning new things every day in this role. Every shift, no matter how tired I am by the end of it, I come home remembering the smiles that I help create, and that’s something that sticks with me.”
Head of Marketing and Community Engagement, Rachel Jones said: “As an outcome of our volunteering programme with Pates Grammar School, we were delighted to be able to offer paid jobs to three students this summer. Olivia, Anna and Stephen have contributed fully to our dementia community, demonstrating emotional intelligence, diligence and empathy, qualities that we believe will be extremely valuable in their future medical training and careers.
“All three will continue to work with us at weekends now they are back at school, and we look forward to offering a number of volunteer placements in partnership with Pates again for this academic year.”
Chris Nicholas, Head of Sixth Form at Pates Grammar School added: “We are delighted to hear that Olivia, Anna, and Stephen have been working so positively with the residents at Wentworth Court. It’s clear that they have enjoyed themselves greatly, gaining so much from this experience, and we are very proud that it has been so mutually beneficial.
“We encourage all of our sixth formers to get involved with local opportunities, to give back, and to use their time here to make a difference to others, beyond the confines of the classroom and the demands of their A Level studies. We look forward to supporting Wentworth Court and others in the community for years to come.”
For more information about Wentworth Court, call 01242 263334.