Activities for Carers

Your Questions Answered: “Can you give me some ideas for carer-friendly activities?”

Helen Johns, the lead trainer on our Activity Coordinator Training Course, writes…

Thank you for this question, it’s so great that you’re thinking about a rounded programme of activities and how to encourage the whole home to get involved in activities.

We discussed this topic recently at one of our training days, and someone called this type of activity a carer-friendly activity. We felt that a carer-friendly activity needed to be:

  • Something that can be done with little or no setup
  • Something that can be done in a short time frame
  • Something that can be built into part of natural care home life

We also considered that this type of activity does not need to be all singing and dancing, but instead can be something that, at it’s heart, leads to a shared experience, general conversation, fun and an opportunity to make the mundane meaningful.

So, with that in mind, here are some ways to make everyday tasks during the care home day into a meaningful activity, and an opportunity to get talking to each other.

Breakfast: Breakfast time is very busy in most care homes, so carers will be very limited for time. Asking residents for help with clearing away crockery and cutlery is a good way to start the day with a meaningful daily living task.

Tea trolley: Instead of just having the usual round of biscuits and refreshments, carers could make this into a special occasion and a meaningful activity by using old favourites such as bourbons, custard creams, jaffa cakes, rich tea biscuits and others that are likely to trigger memories. People could try out different biscuits, rate those they like best, and create their own favourites list.

Lunchtime lull: While residents are waiting for lunch to be served, there is sometimes a bit of a delay. During this time, carers could fill in the time by starting a sing-along, making it interesting by selecting songs with different themes or from different decades. You could even set the theme for each day to encourage them to get started.

Tell the cook: After a mealtime, there is an opportunity to get feedback from residents about whether they enjoyed the meal. Having a small notebook in the dining room and using this to record what people liked about the meal, anything that could be improved etc. can provide great feedback, even for those with memory difficulties. If this is done well, and feedback given to the kitchen teams, this gives residents a sense that they are being consulted and that their comments can lead to improvements.

Teatime quiz: From 4-6pm, the TV channels are crammed with quiz shows. Carers could build on this idea by hosting a regular teatime quiz in the lounge – either using the television quizzes or simply hosting their own using the Daily Sparkle or Resource Pack.

Bedtime wind down: As the home starts to wind down for the day, carers will want to support a gentler pace for the evening. This could be done by focusing attention on helping people with reading poems, prayers or short stories. This may not be suitable for some, but for those who enjoy reading or hearing the spoken word, it can be a soothing activity.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but I’m sure when you consider your own home you will be able to think of some great carer-friendly activities that can turn the day-to-day routines into opportunities for meaningful activities.

Helen Johns is the lead trainer for The Daily Sparkle Activity Coordinator Training and has been developing and delivering our courses since April 2017. As well as working for The Daily Sparkle, Helen runs an activity coordinator forum in her local area, provides training and consultancy for care homes in relation to activity and wellbeing and works as an Expert by Experience for CQC inspections. You can find details of all upcoming our training courses here.