Activities for Different Abilities

Your Questions Answered: “How can I start to target activities for different abilities?”

Whether your job title incorporates the terms ‘lifestyle’, ‘activity’ or ‘well-being’ (or a combination), the overall aims are the same; to enable people to live their lives as fully as they are able to achieve, based on activity and occupation that is both relevant and enjoyable.

The first thing to do is to identify the differing levels of ability you have in the home. One of the most useful tools to do this is Occupational Therapist Jackie Pool’s – Pool Activity Level (PAL) Instrument – this is a simple way to identify people’s level of ability, enabling you to adapt activities to suit. This will almost certainly mean that you create sessions that have the same title, but that differ because they are adapted to the different needs of the people with dementia you are caring for. They will include planned, exploratory, sensory and reflex activities.

From here, you will want to start tailoring activities to different residents depending on their personalities. The best way of doing this is to spend time with the people in your community and the people who know them best, to establish some life history information and get a sense of the types of activity they have always enjoyed. If dog walking has always been an important part of their day, for instance, then this doesn’t need to stop just because someone has come into a care home, but it may need to be adapted to meet a person’s current ability.

Finding out simple information about a person’s past life, work and family experiences, favourite holidays, hobbies and regular routine will help you to build up a good picture of that person and gradually all of the people in your care setting.

It is important not to shoulder all of the responsibility of gathering this information – you could make it a fun activity for residents by asking them: ‘Who are you and what have you done in the past?’, and incorporate it into relatives’ meetings. Equally, involve key-workers to find out and share the lovely snippets of information they gather when supporting people with their care.

Gradually you will find you have groups of people who had the same or similar hobbies and can start planning either clubs or regular activities to meet their specific needs. You can also start to build and agree individual lifestyle plans with the people you support.