It's part of your job to help run and plan activities and entertainment for your residents, and what a job you have - you'll find yourself turning into a dance teacher, quiz master, exercise instructor, bingo caller and singer, and that's just in one week! It's also important that you have some external providers in too, to keep the activity schedule fresh and varied, and also to give your residents something different and a new face or two to mix things up - variety is the spice of life as we all know.
But what if you have a smaller budget for external entertainment? Or even if you're blessed with a generous budget you still want to make sure that every penny is well spent and not wasted. If you are new to the role, this can be challenging and a little risky, especially with the amount of care home entertainers there are out there. The industry in recent years has boomed, with so many new singers and performers branching out into the care industry. Again, it's wonderful to have so much choice but you want to make the right choice for your residents. This blog will give you some key points to factor in when searching for the best entertainment for your residents.
1. Find the right activity for your group ability
If you have a group of very active residents, you might find more choreographed, exercise based entertainment might be right for them. If you have residents living with advanced dementia, something more sensory and fluid (and definitely musical) will be better for them.
If you have the entertainment more than once, are you getting something different and varied each time? Stick with entertainment that keep things fresh, with new activities, songs, repertoire each time.
2. Do they care about your residents?
It's important that your entertainer does more than just 'entertain' - because of the nature of this job you're looking for someone who really cares about your residents and their well-being throughout the session, rather than just turning up, performing, then leaving. Notice those who stay and chat to the residents before and after, take time to get to know what they like and enjoy - this is such a special quality and will mean so much to your residents and their happiness. You may also find if they become a regular entertainer for you, they will build a wonderful bond and even those living with dementia may even recognise them when they arrive.
3. How much do they charge?
Are they charging a fair price? It depends what they are doing - it may be a solo entertainer with little equipment, or several performers with lots of equipment that could take an hour to set up, so take this into consideration.
But don't forget, they could also only be working in one or two care homes a day, possibly paying a commission, paying for their travel and their preparation and equipment, so it's not just an 'hourly rate'.
Please don't ask entertainers to perform for free or for a discount - and the good ones never will. This is now an established profession for many people now, and many businesses are built on delivering care home activities. If you want to try a new entertainer, take the risk and try them (but if you're unsure, use this checklist first)! The arts always seem to be expected to give freebies out, but no other profession seems to do this; your hairdresser doesn't let you have your first cut and colour for free to see if you like how they do it, your plumber doesn't unblock your drains for free to see if they do a good job, so please don't ask entertainment for free sessions either, take the risk, give them a try, and know even if they're not for you and you won't use them again, you know that you've supported a small business and someone trying to make a living through their passion.
4. Are they qualified and experienced to work with those living with dementia?
If you have residents on an advanced dementia floor, it's a really good idea to bring in entertainers who have experience and understanding about dementia. It can be very intimidating and potentially off-putting to a new entertainer working with a very advanced group of residents, and also might not be a great experience for you and the residents too, especially if their programme isn't suitable for them.
Ensure that any entertainer you are thinking of having in for your dementia floor has a good understanding, empathy and experience (e.g. having taken the Dementia Friends training/care experience) and that their programme will be suitable for the residents, so musical and sensory would perhaps benefit them the most, a choreographed exercise routine requiring attention and sequencing may not. If the programme is interactive, that is even better; if the entertainer is going to be stood in the corner and performing, this may be lovely, but may not benefit all of the residents in the room and would be better for a different group.
5. Are they providing high-quality entertainment?
If you're got a singer, are they engaging, fun and know their words? Is your entertainer organised? Have they remembered all of their equipment? Are they professional? This is another important element to consider. If they are providing exercise for your residents, are they qualified to do this? Do they have a background in fitness or dance? If the session is being advertised as music therapy - make sure that they are qualified as a music therapist. Entertainers should not be advertising their sessions as music therapy unless they have achieved a masters degree from a specialised music therapy institution.
Get feedback from your residents - don't forget that the sessions are for them, so their opinions matter the most, what did they get from the entertainment and would they like to see it again?
6. Why choose Musical Moments?
So why choose Musical Moments? We've been in the industry for almost a decade now, our sessions are musical, interactive and engaging and we put your residents first. Our sessions aren't just singing, we give your residents a bit of everything - exercise to music (qualified and safe routines), live music, interactive singing, instrument playing, sensory activities with props, reminiscence activities and relaxation. In our 2019 impact survey, 96% of our clients said that we are a totally unique musical activity (and we deliver sessions all over the UK) so why not try something your residents have never experienced before in our specially designed, interactive musical sessions? Developed especially for those living with dementia, but can be tailored to be suitable for any group, even mixed ability groups.
Booking with us means you have access to our marketing materials - posters and flyers so that you can advertise our visit on your activity boards and timetables. Confirmation of our visit by phone and email so you know we won't let you down, and receiving high-quality standard music sessions that we can promise your residents will enjoy. Invite staff and relatives to get the most out of our sessions and leave all inhibitions at the door - we're in the happiness business and make sure that we get a smile from everyone in the room. We care and love the residents that we work with and it shows - 100% of our team members love their job and would recommend it to others, getting a huge job satisfaction every day.
Fully insured, DBS checked, safeguard trained, qualified and professional - Musical Moments can provide everything your residents need in an hour, for a fair and reasonable price that means you can book us on a regular basis, creating wonderful bonds and memories with your group.
To book your session, see our 'contact' page for individual areas and musicians, or for general enquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org - we can't wait to start making music and memories with you!