I recently supported a close friend in his search for a care facility for his relative. What was evident during our visits was the emphasis on the importance of activities.
Each service said they had a dedicated Activities Coordinator, responsible for organising activities for people who use the service. We saw event calendars and even had the chance to experience some activities taking place.
There is no question that engaging people in meaningful activity is important to building relationships and developing community connections.
Everyone finds fulfilment in having something meaningful to do. Be it our work and occupation; taking part in an interest or hobby; or simply listening to music or reading a book.
Whatever it is, using our time as we wish, to engage in a common interest that help us to feel a sense of purpose and fulfilment is an essential part of who we are.
The last few years has seen much publicity and campaigning to end loneliness and isolation, particularly among older people.
Care facilities have taken on the challenge to address this through organising lively programmes of activity within their settings. However, on reviewing some of these programmes, I question how meaningful some of the activities are to improving people’s quality of life - which should be the aim.
Developing elaborate events calendars consisting of the regular staple of bingo sessions, quizzies and flower arranging would only be meaningful to those who enjoy such pursuits.
In a facility where there are a large number of people, with a variety of tastes, interests and mobility issues, it is no small feat for staff to create opportunities that enable people to feel occupied and engaged in a meaningful way that increases their feeling of self worth and enjoyment.
A person’s feeling of loneliness or isolation can occur whether in their own home or in a care facility. And this can also be the case if the activities taking place around them has no meaning or resonance with them.
In that case they would be spectating as though watching television and not contributing in a positive way to the community in which they belong.
Although the presence of others can also bring pleasure and enjoyment, improving the lived experience of people in care settings should continue to be a focus and priority and reflected in the activities programme on offer.
NAPA – the national activity providers association, have for the past 20 years supported staff in care services to improve quality of life, through person-centred activities, for older people. With over 2,500 members it is the thought leader in this specialised area of care. For more information on how they can help your organisation, visit www.napa-activities.com
Edna Petzen @LyndenConsult is director and marketing consultant at Lynden Consulting, a strategic management, marketing and communications company. Lynden Consulting has a proven track record in implementing successful strategies to achieve excellence and tangible results for providers in health and adult social care. Get in touch to find out how we can help.