12th August

Eileen Garbutt, Health and Wellbeing Coordinator at Guild Care’s specialist dementia care home, Haviland House, is the winner of the National Activity Providers Associations (NAPA) Best Activity Coordinator Award.

She was nominated for the national award by senior staff who recognised her greatest strengths as her boundless energy and enthusiasm for life. Eileen works her magic on individuals and groups alike and is a fountain of knowledge with great ideas and an unquenchable drive for her one aim in life: enabling people with dementia to live well and enjoy their lives.

Haviland House is a Dementia Care Matters ‘Butterfly’ accredited home where residents are referred to as ‘family members’. At Haviland House, the ethos is to create a home for people living with dementia and ensure it is an environment where their family members truly feel safe.

Eileen with a Haviland House family member

Lynne Bluett, Haviland House’s Deputy Manager, described the home as being “a wilderness of nothingness” in terms of meaningful activity and occupation until “Eileen’s bubbly, whacky and empathetic nature burst onto the scene”.

Lynne continued, “Eileen’s skills are many: she is a great communicator, she sings like an angel, knows the words of every song you can mention, has an ability to inspire staff at any level, and she ‘gets’ what it means to help individuals ‘live well with dementia’. She has made such a difference to the energy and feel of Haviland, Eileen is a hugely important part of the work we do at Haviland House and without her our lives and those of the family members would not shine as brightly.”

Within her role, Eileen organises countless activities that guarantee family members are engaged and having fun, including: leading a team of family members and volunteers painting the summerhouse and ice cream parlour, providing non-denominational services on a Sunday, to playing an ugly sister in their annual pantomime (which she writes), baking, crafting, and setting up the Haviland Choir. She has just spent a year working alongside the Mayor of Worthing, who had chosen Haviland House as one of his charities, to help fundraise for sensory equipment; this was all in her own time.

Eileen said, “I’m overwhelmed to have won this Award and I’m thrilled to know my efforts are appreciated and to be recognised by NAPA is a huge honour. My family members mean the world to me and I sincerely believe I mean the world to them too. I receive genuinely felt love and laughter, tears and comfort and a tremendous feeling of wellbeing fortunes from all of them. Haviland House is ‘the’ most wonderful family to be a member of!”

Eileen will receive her prize in September at an awards ceremony in Birmingham.