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There is hardly anything more rewarding for activity coordinators than an increase in resident participation. Weeks of hard work are paid off!
It is even more gratifying to see a resident who repeatedly declines to join activities walk into the recreation area for a concert, game or to participate in a trivia or discussion group.
Here are a few tips that may help improve participation rates at your facility. Some you may be using already, others you may not have tried for a while.
10 Tips for Increasing Participation in Activities
- Listen Carefully
Be patient and take the time to listen. There are very few things more appreciated than undivided attention. Separate your clients into small groups; it is easier to concentrate on four or five people rather than fifteen. If you don't have adequate staffing to assist you, engage the help of volunteers to lead other groups.
Related: 12 Tips for One-on-One Visits with Seniors
- Foster Friendships
Encourage friendships by identifying residents with similar personalities and character traits and sitting them side by side during activities, at meal times or in the garden.
- Involve Relatives
Support relatives by including and inviting them to participate in activities, meetings, gardening, bus trips and in doing so encouraging them to visit more often.
- Issue Invitations
Create personalised invitations for recreation events; people are often moved by special invitations.
- Engage the help of Volunteers
Initiate a volunteer's program. Volunteers are a wonderful resource and can assist by supervising small groups of people playing cards and games, leading discussions groups and reading poetry. They can also assist with 1-on-1 visits and help to motivate residents to attend activity sessions.
Related: Resources for Finding & Managing Volunteers
- Promote Exercise
Make residents aware of the benefits of exercise classes for their mind and body. Remind them that gentle exercise can improve strength and mobility while reducing pain and anxiety.
- Initiate Regular Meetings for Special Interest Groups
Create special weekly and monthly groups meetings for special interest groups; poetry reading, high tea, knitting, at the movies, craft, creative art. Special interest groups that meet regularly are a wonderful way to build friendships.
Related: Ideas for Hobby Clubs & Special Interest Groups
- Offer Drumming Lessons
Invest in some percussion instruments; hand drums, bongos and tambourines. There are lessons free of charge online teaching African, Middle East, and American Indian drumming.
- Make Music Part of their Lives
Music reconnects people to their pasts. It is a simple and inexpensive intervention for improving well-being. You don't have to be a qualified music therapist to help your clients to gain the therapeutic benefits of music. A combination of classic music, folk, brass bands, a capela and childrens choirs should be offered according to preferences on a daily basis.
Related: How to Plan Music Activities for Dementia Care
- Invite School Groups for Inter-generational Activities
Visit your local primary and/or high school and ask to speak with the Music or Art Teacher. Suggest a visit to your facility, where a group of children can share a concert, a themed craft session or a skit with the residents.
Related: Intergenerational Activities: Program Planning & Activity Ideas
Remember that consistency plays an important role in increasing participation. Invite people to attend on a regular basis and continually search for different ways to motivate and entice them into attending.
We'd love to hear your feedback!
What do you find are the best ways to increase activity participation?