It is not uncommon for seniors living in assisted-living facilities to lack mental stimulation and social contact.  One-on-one visits allow you to respond to the needs of those who avoid social settings. There are many enjoyable games and activities to keep minds and bodies strong and active that can be enjoyed in a one-on-one setting.
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It is not uncommon for seniors living in long-term care homes to lack mental stimulation and social contact.  

This is especially true for people who are loners by nature or those who have lived on their own for a long period of time. They may choose to stay in their rooms all day and decline to participate in programmed activities.

Related: 15 Activities for Loners and Introverted Seniors

The Benefits of One-on-One Visits 

One-on-one visits allow you to respond to the needs of those who avoid social settings. There are many enjoyable games and activities to keep minds and bodies strong and active that can be enjoyed in a one-on-one setting.

One-on-one visits also provide an opportunity to develop rapport and trust with individuals, which is so important in residential care settings.

8 Tips for Successful One-on-One Visits

1. Put Yourself in Their Shoes

Prepare yourself mentally beforehand by spending a few minutes thinking about the person; try to put yourself in their shoes. Take a look at their profile form and see if there are hobbies or interests you can talk about.

2. Early Morning is Best

Schedule visits for early mornings when residents are more alert. Alternatively, visit mid-afternoon after lunch and rest time. Make them feel special by sending a note:
"Hi Linda, if it suits you, I will be coming by tomorrow for a chat and a cup of tea!"

3. Eye Contact is Important

On arrival, look your resident in the eyes and give them a hug. Set the right tone with a warm greeting and then sit down in front of the resident at eye level.

4. Use Props

If you need to, bring a 'helping hand' such as a flower, some seasonal fruit, some interesting media headlines, or a home-baked biscuit. Props can trigger reminiscing and help start conversations.

5. Reduce Background Noise

Turn off the TV and radio and close the door if loud noises are coming through.


6. A Change of Scenery Can Be a Good Thing

If your meetings are always in the bedroom, try a change of scenery. A veranda or garden setting are good alternatives.

7. Pay Attention to Body Language

Pay attention to your resident's body language as well as your own. If you are wringing your hands or looking at the clock, it sends a message that you don't want to be there. Be genuine, your attitude will make or break a visit. If you are not there in body and soul they will sense it and become indifferent.On the other hand, if they are nodding off to sleep or avoiding eye contact, make an excuse and come back when the resident is more receptive.

8. Be Patient

If the resident has advanced dementia, be prepared to repeat conversations as needed; look at pictures in the room and ask questions, admire clothes and hair.

10 One-on-One Activity Ideas

1. Read Aloud

Read aloud something funny such as a poem or a joke.
Related: Poems to Share and Jokes for the Elderly

2. Play Games

Play simple puzzles or board games together.
Related: Games for Seniors

3. Enjoy Trivia

Bring along some trivia quizzes or word games.
Related: Word Games and Trivia

4. Look Through Photo Albums

Look through a family photo album together or make a scrapbook album together.
Related: Recycled Magazine Scrapbooks

5. Story Telling

Ask them to tell you a story about their life. Suggest school life, childhood friends, sports, siblings, their mother's cooking, and their pets.
Related: Reminiscing Activities for Seniors

6. Bring along Magazines or Books of Interest

Find out what sorts of things were of interest to them in the past; a fisherman may enjoy looking at pictures of fish and a quilter may enjoy looking at quilt magazines.

7. Show Interest in their Culture and Background

If the resident comes from another country, get hold of a few quizzes or interesting facts about the country to talk about.

8. Listen to the Radio Together

Music, talk-back, talking books, science programs, ethnic programs.

9. Enjoy Fresh Air & Sunshine

Take a walk in the garden and reminisce about their previous life at home.
Were they a keen gardener? 
Related: Outdoor Activities

10. Offer a Gentle Massage

Offer a gentle shoulder or hand massage.
Related: Hand Massage & Nail Care

Good Luck!

We'd love to hear your feedback!
What activities and strategies have you found to work well in one-on-one settings?

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Comments   Post a Comment

Ria Caldwell 15th Sep 2022
I have so enjoyed reading all your comments and ideas and they are all wonderful. I believe as an Occupational Therapy Assistant here in Ohio, the use of self is one of the most powerful tools we have. Whether you are selecting an "occupation" something purposeful and/or meaningful to you or to them, collaboration is key. Recently I have gained an enthusiasm for gardening and crafting, as fundamental as these concepts are both personally and professionally, this year is different. The ability to participate in a task either using their hands, if they so choose, or simply their input on a task is priceless. Remembering how difficult of an adjustment it is to lose your abilities, tasks that once came easily and quickly now must be performed slowly and methodically to promote safety, may we continue to strengthen one another by sharing ideas so as not to fall into the "same old thing." Personally, I can't imagine a profession or a past time that could be more rewarding than what we do. Thanks for all your ideas. Ria in Ohio
Susan 15th Sep 2022 Activity Director
Hi Ria
Thanks for your input and ideas
Susan 11th Mar 2021 Activity Director
Care plan goals are different for each resident depending on what they like and their ability
Here is one example about Marie but probably the residents you’re talking about will be different
Staff will communicate with Marie in a calm and relaxed manner, giving her ample time to express herself and offering empathetic
Use these template but you will have to modify them to suit the needs and wishes

Marie will be engaged in a variety of ADLs (activities of daily living) several times a day to diminish difficult behaviour e.g.
having hair combed and 'set'
hanging out clothes to dry
folding clothes
wiping and dusting shelves
tidying out handbag
washing and drying dishes under supervision
Staff will spend extra one-on-one time with Marie in the afternoons taking her for a walk and/or engaging her in conversation to distract her from cognitive stress.
At least 3 times a week, Marie will be involved in an activity she really enjoys; such as dancing with staff to the sound of country music.
Marie will be actively engaged in 'helping' staff to prepare for Church Services e.g. picking and arranging flowers.

Mary 11th Mar 2021 Activity Director
Does anyone have a sample of a 1:1 Care plan goal?
Solange 11th Mar 2021 Diversional Therapist
Hi, Mary. The link below will help you with Care Plan goals and interventions 1:1
Steven Czyrny 8th Sep 2020
Thanks for sharing these awesome ideas. Yes, I have experienced in visiting in the morning, it is extremely the best idea to make the senior's day wonderful.
Susan 21st Nov 2019 Activity Director
Michele 20th Nov 2019
Can someone please give me an example of a one to one note. I am new to this in Illinois and preparing for state and I am not sure if they are being documented correctly. Thank u
gladyz 27th Jun 2019 Recreational Activities
Could you please give me some examples to write in progress notes about the 1:1 visits for people doesn't want to participate in activities or some tips please thanks gladyz
Georgia 5th Feb 2017
My mother is 88, still loves at home. My brother works out of the home office 5-6 days a week, often spends the night there or takes her out of town on the weekends. I live out of tow, 2-4 hour drive one way, so I can only come down once or twice a month for a couple of days at a time. My other 2 siblings live in town but work full time so it's hard for them to be there every day. My mom has PT twice a week, someone comes to the house twice a week to do swimming exercises and we have someone come over twice a week to take her grocery shopping or run errands or help around the house. Practically every day my mom is emptying drawers and closets, getting rid of new and good item, as well as many items we are donating. We are finding perfectly good items in the trash too. She has a rather large house and many items and it's driving my brother crazy and some closets she has emptied 7 times, and she can't remember. She has lost all interest in socializing with any friends. I would like to hire someone that would be like a caring angel to just come and interact with her, play a game, etc so she stays out of trouble when family can't be with her. If I lived closer and did not have a family of my own and work, I would be there more often. Any suggestions on who I can hire? She lives in San Diego.
Talita 13th Feb 2017
Hi Georgia, it sounds like a challenging time. This would be a great question to ask on our facebook group page:

I wish you all the best.
Tena Scallan 9th Jan 2017
Wonderful suggestions
Talita 9th Jan 2017
Thanks for your feedback Tena
Remya 28th Apr 2016 Therapy assistant
I tried playing word games solving puzzles. Chatting with them. Some help in foldings or sorting more of a functional activity. Generally it can be 5 to 10min. But even if you had a chat it can be social and emotional support.
Jennifer 8th Jan 2014 Lifestyle co-ordinator
There are no time frames under ACFI as there was under Question19 when the funding system was RCS. Obviously you cannot do a good job my saying hi and walking out the door without spending time addressing the identified issue with the client.
Morena 8th Jan 2014 Diversional Therapist
to Kerry; 1:1 room visits. should be between 10 to 15 minutes.
one on one room visit / 1:1 interaction are very important part for long term resident living in facilitates. As this help to give resident a social and emotional support that may require when resident does not participate in general activities is lonely or depressed, confused, scared, angry, frustrated weepy, anxious. In this way recreational staff can implement special program or games interested to the resident and given them the opportunity to reminisce and to build on self esteem.

Bianca 22nd Dec 2013 Lifestyle Coordinator
In response to Kerry, 1:1 duration or frequency is not prescribed by the accreditation agency. A smile and a quick hello also constitutes 1:1 interaction. If a residents is specifically visited for behaviour intervention (such as identified social isolation) for any number of minutes this ought be recorded as behaviour intervention strategies rather than a 1:1 visit. This way you can evaluate the effectiveness of your intervention when you complete your Resident Of the Day, Evaluation or Review process. Thus demonstrating [for accreditation and client monitoring purposes]continuous improvement and your also ensuring you have identified your Elders corrects needs and addressed them in the appropriate fashion.
Kim 5th Dec 2013 Registered Nurse
These are terrific ideas.1on1 visits are not always easy to conduct.your suggestions give some great ideas for breaking the ice.I will certainly give them a go.Thank you.
Roslyn 4th Dec 2013 Community & Diversional Therapist Trainer
this is such a great tip, so many times i am asked how to talk to people 1-1, and its hard to just come up with the right answer on the spot. I find it very easy to talk to people, but then again i have been in this job as a DT for almost 16 years and neary 20yrs in Aged Care. Newbies could learn a great deal from this. Thanks again.
Kerry 4th Dec 2013 Recreation
Can you please tell me if 1:1 visits must last at least 15 minute duration for it to be recorded as 1:1. Thanks Kerry
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