In our Autumn competition, we asked you what imaginative ways you have been carrying out your important work during lockdown. Covid has presented an extremely challenging situation to everyone in care homes, so we were keen to find out what activities you have been doing, how you have helped residents keep in touch with their loved ones, and what advice you would give to a carer or activity coordinator facing another lockdown.
We were bowled over by the response we had to this competition. The effort and creativity you have all been putting in to supporting your residents and co-workers during this time is truly incredible! The variety of entries was so good we’ve compiled them into sets of tips and ideas here. This week: Covid-Safe Activities
You are all already experts at running activities for your residents. But which activities have people had continued success with amongst all the restrictions of lockdown and social distancing?
Themed days continue to provide a real focus for the week, a bit of variety, and something to look forward to. Some of our favourites include mocktail days (sharing a special non-alcoholic drink together); tea Tuesday, with exotic or flavoured teas; ice-cream day and a pampering day.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to a garden, make the most of your outdoor space. Residents have loved a spot of socially-distanced gardening, including digging up potatoes and picking herbs, tomatoes and fruit. Going into winter, have a think about what can be planted ready for spring. And, how about a garden concert? If the weather is kind you could invite a singer or tribute act, light the BBQ and make an afternoon of it.
Autumn leaves make a fantastic material for craft projects, and gathering them can be very calming and therapeutic. Or why not put on some socially-distanced outdoor exercises? You’ve been doing wheelchair/walking-frame races, martial arts, and Highland Games, including tossing the caber!
“Poetry workshops, folklore around favourite wildflowers, and chats about nature were a great way to observe the seasons and meant that the residents could see that nature was still busy.”
Marie Barley, Bushfield Court Retirement Scheme
Many of you have been using technology so creatively too. A virtual visit to Mexico, watching live webcams of birds, badgers and other wildlife, doing Zoom quizzes, and enjoying virtual tours to famous landmarks (the residents at Sandfields have been to Stonehenge, London Zoo and even Times Square in New York!).
Singing and singalongs have been key for keeping up the spirits of staff and residents alike. If you have residents in isolation, why not run a small singalong session in the hallway outside their room? Take a portable speaker, some snacks, and involve them in the fun.
“We compiled songbooks of our residents’ favourite songs and used Alexa to do singalongs 3-4 times a week. Colleagues that are not busy pick up a song book and join in. The singalong has really kept everybody’s spirit up during the last few months and even those residents who can’t sing tap their toes.”
Jean Miller, Harpwood Residential Care Home
Lots of you have had to get creative with where you run your activities. The hallway or corridor has taken on a life of its own! You are successfully running exercise sessions, bingo, quizzes and more in these usually forgotten spaces.
In the same way, perhaps you could play games across a whole floor, competing with those upstairs or downstairs.
Do you have any ground floor entertainment windows, where your residents can see and listen to visitors? Invite friends, family, or even singers and entertainers to do a little impromptu visit!
Most of your outings have been cancelled lately, but why not bring the outing to your residents? Think of the experience of the place you were going to visit, whether it was the beach, the pub, or the ice cream van. How can you re-create the essence of the visit for them?
“As people could not go to the beach, we brought the beach to them, using real shells and sand from the beach, using soundscapes and enjoying some ice creams whilst reminiscing about the times they used to go to the beach.”
Caroline Lindley, Newstead House
Finally, many of you have successfully been running your regular and much-loved sessions with social distancing and hygiene in mind, such as crafts with clay, storytelling, worship hour (including singing hymns and reciting psalms and prayers), book club, food tasting, baking and playing games.
“We re-invented a Monopoly board by replacing the streets and stations with captions such as: Pay the Mortgage, Buy Birthday Presents, Receive Bonus Bonds, Win a Raffle, Speeding Fine, Parking Ticket, etc. This gives our residents the chance to still manage money.”
Merle Weiner, Green Tree Court Nursing and Residential Home
Next week: Working One-to-One