For many care homes, activities have been reduced to mostly one-to-one sessions, which either you are doing – in the time you have available – or which carers are hopefully being encouraged to do as well.
It is now that you will see the team pull together more than ever to support each other in their job roles. Activities assistants may have to support with lunches, housekeepers may be supporting with care and everyone will have a huge part to play in maintaining the social and mental wellbeing of the residents. Getting the rest of the care home staff on-board to support you with activities has never been more important, but you also need plenty of simple, straightforward activities that anyone can do without needing lots of kit, explanations or training.
Below are some of our favourite ideas to help the team keep residents occupied while they are with them, so they can focus on the importance of not only their physical wellbeing, but also their mental and social wellbeing too.
Start a diary for each resident: Ask them to write about how they are feeling, what they have been doing to keep positive and anything else which you/they feel is relevant. This is a good way for people to express their feelings and will be interesting to read once life is back to normal.
Hallway activities: Have each resident sitting in their doorway and run activities from the hall. You’ve probably seen some brilliant images of this approach circulating online as it’s a great way to reduce isolation. Suitable activities could include bingo, exercising, dancing, balloon tennis, quizzes, or even just reading the Daily Sparkle together.
Adult colouring: If you have a limited number of crayons and you are worried about cross-contamination, choose a colouring sheet which only needs two colours and then hand two colours to each person.
Create activity boxes: These can be handed out and swapped around (and cleaned in between each user). Look in your storeroom and see what you can pull together. Knitting, sewing, colouring, reminiscence, sensory, puzzles, games etc. Change them every couple of days.
Ask residents to write letters to each other: These can easily be delivered to the recipient, who can then write back. Some residents may not have families to connect with and they may miss socialising with their friends in the communal areas.
FaceTime another resident: Many of you are not allowed phones at work, but with permission from management, perhaps you could try supporting residents to FaceTime one of their care-home friends, so they can still communicate with each other.
Crosswords/word searches/sudoku: Why not make your own word searches relevant to your home and your residents? You can use residents’ names, favourite activities, local road names, entertainers’ names etc.
Arts and crafts: Could you all work together, separately, to create pieces for an art show once lockdown is over? Ask the catering team to save cereal boxes, tin cans and plastic bottles so you have a good source of materials to use for arts and crafts.
Fashion show: Have a good look through your residents’ wardrobes, and have a little sort out. Chat to them about their favourite items as you do it and try things on together.
Grow herbs or flowers: Little plant pots on a bedroom windowsill are very cheering, and this will also give someone the routine and purpose of having to water and care for a plant daily.
Make your own lunch: If sandwiches are on the menu, can you take the ingredients to a resident’s room so they can make their sandwich themselves?
Treats trolley: Visit the residents with an ice-cream trolley, or try smoothies, sweets, cakes, chocolate, sherry, scones and so on.
Most importantly though; talk, empathise and listen. Any activity you do as a group can usually be adapted to a one-to-one, and if you are struggling to think of ideas, ask someone else for their input. Use your support networks now, more than ever. The Daily Sparkle is open to any activity coordinators – join here – and our Facebook page is regularly updated with ideas, inspiration and top tips.
Article by Robyn Taylor. You can read all her features here.