Ready, steady, BAKE

The Great British Bake Off is in full flow and serves as a reminder that home baking is more popular than ever – no matter a person’s level of baking ability. National Baking Week took place all week last week, and many homes across Exemplar got stuck in.

At Exemplar, we know there is more to baking than just a few ingredients, an oven and the product made at the end; it is a time for people to get involved and create something together, a trip down memory lane with favourite recipes and a way to ignite the senses.

Following on from Chocolate Week, Neville Court service users grouped together to create an array of cakes, biscuits and buns for their relatives and support workers. Getting messy was, of course, part of the process, but just showed the result of how enthusiastic service users were and the efforts they put in. Activities staff assisted service users throughout each stage of the process, and found it gave everyone a feel good factor.Exemplar homes are equipped with sensory rooms, activity hubs and therapy rooms which all stimulate an individual’s senses and allows them to become involved in an activity one way or another. Baking provides many ways for service users to be involved depending on their ability – from measuring ingredients, mixing and decorating – to washing up! Baking smells, new textures – touching ingredients at different stages and the sense of pride when a bake comes out of the oven is something everyone can enjoy.

tried their hand at the savoury side of cooking – holding off on the sweet treats until their visit from the local school later this week for Harvest Festival. Making use of the impressive therapy kitchen within the home, service users cooked up a storm, with a cheesy pasta bake going down as most popular.Otterburn had to split their baking over a few days, with so many service users wanting to get involved. One service user was determined to make a cake on her own for her mum – something she had never previously been able to do. With the assistance and encouragement of support staff, Jane made an impressive cake with wonderful decorations. When presented with the cake her emotional mum said “It looks beautiful – I’ve never seen her do something like this before.” Plenty other service users also created an array of cupcakes, lemon cake and chocolate cake – each having the opportunity to mix, pour and decorate throughout the process.

Sensory fuelled activities provide a safe way for individuals with complex needs to interact with their surroundings, and develop trusting relationships with support workers. All Exemplar homes carry out meaningful and creative activities with service users – dependent on their needs. We understand activities are for service users, so shouldn’t decide for them – but with them. Regular forums are held throughout each home, enabling service users to have their say in what they want to do and given the opportunity to lead their chosen activity either in a large group, or just with their support worker.

We believe being involved in social activities offers real therapeutic benefits to individuals. Our aim is for everyone to engage in enjoyable activities which help increase independence and improve life skills, whilst also developing links with the local community and therapeutic environment in the service.