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12 young people studying Health and Social Care at The Buckinghamshire College Group visited Fremantle Court residential and nursing home in Stoke Mandeville to deepen their understanding about pursuing a career in the care sector.

The event was organised by leisure and lifestyle manager at The Fremantle Trust, Sue Faulkner, and placement officer at the college’s Aylesbury Campus, Gemma Jones. It took place during Student Volunteering Week, a nationwide initiative developed by the Student Volunteering Network to celebrate the contribution of students and showcase the diverse range of volunteering opportunities available.

The students enjoyed a full tour of Fremantle Court, which opened in 2014 and has been awarded a Gold Standard from the University of Stirling Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) for its ‘dementia friendly’ design.

As part of the day, residents and students came together to sample a range of activities, including tai chi, painting with pastels and a group singing session.

After group activities the Trust’s practice development lead for dementia, Jill Conroy, talked to the students in more detail about the importance of person-centred dementia care and the organisation’s investment in specialist training, having rolled out its BTEC Dementia Awareness qualification across services.

She also highlighted the value of innovation in dementia care, following the Trust’s development of its ‘Bedside Buddies’ initiative to support people who are less able to socialise in communal spaces. This includes one-to-one reminiscence activities, such as the creation of ‘busy boxes’ of photos and belongings with special significance to encourage engagement.

The event closed with a discussion led by the Trust’s learning and development manager, Anne Westcott, about career opportunities in care and the variety of roles and routes into the sector. The feedback was extremely positive and generated placement requests, as students were so inspired by the event. One student even remarked that it ‘didn’t feel like a job, it felt like a family.’

Commenting on the event, Sue Faulkner said:

Our student volunteering event was a great opportunity for potential future care professionals to have a real insight into the day-to-day running of a care service. It was lovely to see the students showing such kindness and compassion as well as an appreciation of the attention to detail that is inherent in providing high quality care to meet individual needs.

Gemma Jones added:

I was delighted to work with The Fremantle Trust to organise an event which offered such a fun, educational and informative itinerary around working within a care home. Our students were very warmly welcomed by everyone, describing their day as ‘fascinating and amazing’. It was a huge success and the students were sad when the day came to an end.