Blog Post Published January 2012

How to get organised for Creative Craft Activities

Creative craft is a very important part of a good Leisure Program in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Research has shown that life satisfaction in long-term care facilities and nursing homes is improved and enhanced through social opportunities.

Creative craft is just one project that fits the bill; it engages the mind and stimulates brain cells. Another benefit of creative craft is the promotion of communication and interaction which naturally develops from it.

Creative craft encompasses an array of choices including moulding clay, decorating tiles, recycling materials into useful things, scrap booking, weaving, beading, knitting and appliqué to mention just a few.

It is the responsibility of Recreation Therapists to make sure that the Leisure Program in their facilities offers a variety of elderly activities which includes arts and crafts opportunities that are not only therapeutic but entertaining and fun.

Creative craft provides elderly people with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment which promotes concentration and encourage new ideas and thoughts. These are only a few compelling reasons why you should take seriously consideration in making creative craft and essential part of your monthly Leisure and Lifestyle Program.

Golden Carers has hundreds of ideas on art and crafts with step by step instructions and templates. However, you must get your supplies and storage organized so that you don’t waste time and money rummaging around looking for supplies and buying things you already have.

First, a few hints on how to get donated materials.

Donations of materials:

  1. Collect material throughout the year; ask staff and visitors to help you out by giving them a list of possible items of interest such as: plastic bottles and bottles tops, shoe boxes, wool, knitting needles, fabric, ribbons, lace, stamps, broken costume jewellery, plastic flowers, etc.
  2. Ask kitchen staff to collect corks, cardboard, egg cartons, strings, large cans and bottles tops.
  3. Go to charity shops such as the Salvation Army or Lifeline. These shops are a good source of picture frames, dressing-up clothing, wooden furniture (old chairs for men’s group to restore is a popular activity in my experience).
  4. Discount/thrift and junk stores are also worth a look for clearance sales, surplus materials, and end-on-line products.


  1. Collect cardboard, plastic boxes and containers of various sizes (biscuit cans and baby formula tins are good for pencils and smaller items).
  2. Sort all supplies in good working condition into piles and throw out dried, spent and useless items.
  3. Once you have the piles sorted out you can figure out what sort of containers they will need.
  4. Using a marker, label containers.
  5. Store boxes and containers in shelves or even better, in a closet which can be locked.

Now you are ready to get started with craft activities! You will find that you can use your time more efficiently and spend more time with participants once you know where everything is.

Remember that activities must be modified to suit the restrictions and limitations of clients. Appropriate modifications can be implemented without reducing the pleasure and satisfaction associated with the activity.

Good Luck!


Solange 19th Jan 2012 Diversional Therapist


Hi Margaret,

Yes, it is sometimes very difficult to motivate clients. However, here are a few tips on motivation:

Appeal for clients 'help'. By telling them they are doing it for a good cause make them feel good. For instance, almost every resident has a favourite nurse or volunteer. Tell them the craft would be a 'gift' to them. Another way would be to make a few craft items to give away when children come for visit; be it relatives or school children or play group.

Plan activities that match their skills. Whatever they are making should give them a sense of accomplishment.

Be empathetic. Encouragement and praising never go astray. Some people need it more than others.

Have a positive and enthusiastic attitude. Build up expectations a few days before the craft session. When you see a potential participant say: "Hi Paul, don't forget Wednesday is our arts and crafts session, we are making some really lovely bookmarks. Join us!".

Foster a sense of ceremony and anticipation. Make the craft session a special session; invite resident's relatives or school children to join in. Ask relatives to bring a plate to share with a hot drink.

The fact is, at the end of the day, you can't motivate everybody; alas it would be so good if we could!

However, try different tactics and very often you succeed. After all it is our job to try, try, try and if we fail we try a little longer.

I hope these tips can help you.

All the best!

Solange Kindermann
Talita 18th Jan 2012


Debbie, we have some activities listed in the July section of the calendar for the Olympics this year - we will be adding more in the coming months!
Debbie Cavanagh 18th Jan 2012


Just wondering if any one has some ideas for events that we can play with the Residents for the omplyic games which will be soon upon.
Margaret 18th Jan 2012 Lifestyle Assistant


How do I get people motivated to make things when they say "Whats the point, I have so much stuff, I have no one to give it to."

Leave a comment

You must have an account to leave a comment. Create one now »