How to Encourage Activity Participation

A recent report produced by the College of Occupational Therapists entitled ‘Living Well Through Activities in Care Homes’ has highlighted the importance of meaningful activity for care home residents. They have also produced an online toolkit to help care home staff maximise opportunities for activity

The toolkit encourages staff to explore opportunities to promote activity during routine, everyday interactions rather than seeing activities as a separate part of care to be addressed by an Activities Co-ordinator or specialist member of staff. By focusing on residents’ interests and abilities, staff can find areas of everyday activity that residents can become involved with which may have benefits to both their physical and psychological wellbeing. Read on to find out more about the benefits of increased activity and how you can encourage residents to become more active within your service.

Maximise Opportunities for Activities to Benefit Your Service Users

Declining activity levels in older people can lead to a number of detrimental effects which may include:

  • A low mood and depression
  • Decreased mobility
  • Confusion
  • Increased risk of urinary and chest infections
  • Constipation
  • Low self-esteem

Promoting opportunities for everyday activity can potentially avoid all of these negative effects whilst improving the quality of life of your residents.

4 Easy to Implement Steps to Encourage Activity Participation

  1. Ensure all of your residents have a personal profile detailing their life history, hobbies and interests and encourage staff to become familiar with them. Knowing the background and interests of residents will enable staff to identify activities that residents would be interested in, or to discuss topics of interest during the delivery of care. Remember that conversation itself can be a valuable activity, particularly for residents who prefer to remain in their own room and lack other social opportunities – starting a conversation by asking about a family photograph or favourite personal possession is often an excellent starting point.
  2. Explore areas where residents could have greater involvement in the running of your home. Tasks such as setting tables, emptying vases or opening curtains can encourage residents to become more active and feel a sense of purpose rather than simply being recipients of care. This, in turn, is likely to have a positive effect on self-esteem and general wellbeing.
  3. Improve opportunities for residents to carry out self-directed activities by ensuring they have the resources they need. Residents will often remain inactive if they do not have an activity to stimulate them or to engage with. Ensuring that they have access to appropriate equipment to help pass the time will provide stimulation and increase activity levels. Consider what resources a resident may like in their room to help fill their day. Ideas that improve activity levels could range from providing something as simple as a daily newspaper or writing materials, to having access to a telephone line or laptop.
  4. Remember that activities should be aimed at fulfilling the needs and interests of residents rather than simply trying to persuade residents to attend organised activities that may not meet their needs. Activities can sometimes be based more on the interests and enthusiasms of the organiser, than the needs of residents – which is likely to limit their success. Try to ensure group activities are led by resident suggestions and requests and that their success and popularity is monitored. Just because something was popular once, doesn’t mean that it will stand up to regular repetition.

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