When people think of care homes, they automatically think of sitting in lounge chairs starring at other residents for 12 hours of the day.
This isn’t the case. Activities should form the core part of a care plan for residents, and there is an enormous amount that they can do, from music and quizzes to arts and crafts.
Music and sound
Name that tune or music memory is a great way to trigger memories and reminiscence about a particular era or a specific event. But nothing beats getting everyone together to sing along to classic songs and tunes. We have found that residents tend to engage more with songs from when they were in their teens and 20s.
As we embrace technology, our residents also enjoy music sessions via Zoom. Residents adore concerts which brings smiles to many faces, with many residents foot tapping, clapping, singing and even dancing.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we had to stop our volunteers, live performers, befriending services, and religious pastors coming to our homes. However, usual service will resume when it is safe to do so.
Making your own cards can be a very enjoyable activity and makes a fantastic hobby. Residents can enjoy using old magazines, wrapping paper or wallpaper to create a collage, getting out the paints, coloured pencils, tissue paper and stickers, is great for their independence and imagination.
Scrapbooking is very similar and giving residents their own scrapbook and then encourage them to stick photos and images that remind them of their life. It is also very useful for the care workers to really understand the residents’ personalities and what they have achieved in life.
Rolling out some scented dough is great for those with dexterity issues and can be very therapeutic. The smell and texture also brings back memories of childhood.
Sensory tables brings joy and laughter to care homes. Residents are able to experience different sensations, from squiggly stress balls to sensory active boards. With the aim to promote feelings of calmness for residents living with dementia.
Puzzles and games
One of the best things about puzzles is how versatile they are. For mild or early-stage dementia, a 3D puzzle could be very absorbing, whilst later on a 24-piece puzzle might be more appropriate. The simplest puzzles with 13 pieces are a good choice for those whose condition is more advanced.
Residents can still get enjoyment from certain boardgames, depending on their level of condition. Traditional games such as Scrabble, card games, or dominoes could be enjoyable too. All of which are in our homes and can be accessed at any time. Technology is always evolving therefore we have also introduced iPads into our homes. Residents are able to play digital games, complete crosswords and listen to music but still be in the company of other residents. The introduction of the iPads has also been useful for residents to enjoy virtual meetings and calls on WhatsApp and zoom to their family throughout the pandemic.
Whether it’s wet or dry outside, garden and floor games can be a great activity to do in a care home. Skittles, boules, horseshoe and ring toss games are good as they can be played from a sitting position – perfect for residents aren’t that mobile.
Exercise is key for helping to boost mood, improve strength and generally make residents happier and more content. We use a fitness instructor every Friday who provides online training specifically for older people via Zoom. These classes are designed to keep our residents fit but also engages with the less mobile.
The brilliance of dance as an exercise for the elderly is its ability to bring together both movement and music into one activity. It has the power to stimulate reminiscence and is proven to improve balance and cognitive ability. We don’t worry too much about knowing the correct steps. We simply pick dance-friendly music that we think our residents will enjoy and get moving!
It is important to get as much fresh air as possible. Therefore, we encourage residents to get out and about and into the
garden each day. With our dementia-friendly gardens, residents can walk, explore, and remain safe at all times.
Everyone loves a good celebration and we’re no acceptation. Valentines, Easter, Halloween to Christmas to name a few. Of course, we can’t miss out birthdays. Interactions with local schools and picnics in the park also keep our residents busy. Therefore, residents are always occupied and keeping active in a care home is never a challenge.