Care Home Activities – What a Difference a COVID Year Makes.
What a year it’s been for care homes. The care sector has seen so many changes in the way they have provided care and especially in the way they have used activities to keep residents occupied during the long lockdown period.
Before COVID-19 reared its ugly head, many care homes welcomed external activity providers in the form of music and singing sessions, fitness practitioners and craft organisers among others. The onset of lockdown meant that this was immediately stopped and the staff were left to find other ways to provide stimulation and interest for their residents as best as they could.
These days most care homes employ Activity Coordinators and they proved invaluable in coming up with innovative ideas to keep residents active and occupied during that time. Many had limited budgets to work with but still managed to work wonders with a few well-chosen items that could be used in a variety of ways.
Many invested in simple quiz games such as the Quiz Floor Mat Set. This game can not only be used as a game by throwing a bean bag onto a section and answering a general knowledge question, but the bean bags can be used for fitness sessions and the question cards can be used on their own.
Music CD and Songbook sets are also very versatile as they can be used to get everyone joining in, but the CD can also be used for gentle exercise stretches and if a few Chiffon Scarves or Cheerleader Pom Poms are added they can provide great fun for people of all abilities. Many staff found that by adding a few musical instruments such as a Bongo Drum Set or a set of Maracas, those residents who are normally reluctant to join in did so happily. And if everyone is happily involved it can help to free up staff to do other necessary tasks.
Keeping Bodies Fit
Lots of care homes used the services of outside fitness instructors but when this stopped they turned to experts such as Julie Robinson who specialises in gentle exercise for elderly people. Her range of Move it or Lose it DVDs helped to provide an hour or so of valuable stretching in a fun way - and that untrained staff could deploy with confidence. Used along with an Exercise Stretch Band, these have helped our older population to keep fit and supple indoors, at the ready for getting out and about once allowed.
With the absence of bought-in entertainment, many care homes found that the cost of these providers freed up funds to purchase activities that their own regular staff could use with little or no training. Streamed concerts became extremely popular as the low cost and flexible timing was easier to do as the care home could play the concerts at a time that suited them and could also be used several times over at no extra cost, allowing for smaller groups or even to individuals. The concerts included Elvis, Dolly and Wartime themes and even included warm-up fun quizzes and gentle stretches beforehand.
Art and Craft for Everyone
During the lockdown period many people turned to arts and crafts and discovered new joys in creating things. This was especially so with older residents who needed something to occupy them for long periods at a time and could also help to relax and calm any restlessness. Activity Coordinators sought the help and advice of companies like Activities to Share to source craft items that could be used by people of all abilities. Painting sets became extremely popular, ranging from blank Artist Canvases and Watercolour Sets, Paint by Numbers and for anyone with dementia, Aquapaints - just using a brush and water to reveal a picture.
A number of companies took advantage of an Arts to Share – easy ordering system, whereby care homes were sent a wooden storage unit, filled with art and craft materials and they just put in a monthly order for the items they had used only. They received fresh supplies and could tailor the items to their needs. This ensured a steady supply of a range of products at the ready for any activity session.
With the wide range of activity products available, and with care home staff doing such an amazing job at providing the activities themselves (and enjoying the experience) it is possible that managers may think twice about committing such a large part of their budgets to employing outside entertainment providers and may continue to source their own activity products and use the expertise and experience of those companies lke Activities to Share, to help guide them to making future activity sessions an enriching and enjoyable time for everyone.