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Hanif 30th Nov 2016
Hi everyone

I am Adele and totally new to the world or residential homes and activities. I have recently begun working as the activities coordinator in a group home with approx. 40 residents with dementia/Alzheimers, all affected at different levels.

Does anyone have any advice for me on how to make for a great activities programme? And also how to make sure I can involve everyone (or as many as possible) from mild to the more advanced residents. A lot of who can't get around at all without the help of a carer. Is there a way I can make sensory work without being to repetitive or boring or ever child like.

Again I am very new to this, I have downloaded and researched quite a lot but nothing quite helps like the advice of people already in the job. I do expect a lot of trial and error with a few activities but would be very grateful for advice and help to push me to be the best I can be.

Thank you

Solange 4th Dec 2016 Diversional Therapist
Hi Adele
Welcome to a worthy profession! The Activities Program should be as varied as possible so clients can choose what appeals to them. I would say, a Program that offers a mixture of activities to cater for social, physical, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and personal to suit the needs of clients. Also, try to have two or more activities going at the same time (which sometimes is not possible if you are on your own). It is important to have volunteers to give you a hand; to come once a week to read (poetry, short stories, religious texts) for a small group of two or three clients while you manage the main group. Sensory group activities are excellent to reminisce and socialize. Here are some ideas for sensory activities: Nail grooming, scent guessing, sensory pouches, soap making, sensory boxes, foot spa, essential oil massages, fabric scraps sorting, sensory lap quilts, taste guessing, and many more. Check Golden Carers for examples of Program Activities. Best wishes!
Hanif 9th Dec 2016
Thank you for your reply Solange, I think once I have built my confidence up I will be fine. I am just unsure how to present the activities and how to engage residents.
Melissa 9th Dec 2016 Diversional Therapist
My advice would be to come up with meaningful activities to the resident. If you run an activity and they are all asleep, then the activity isn't suitable. An activity will not suit everyone (because no matter how hard you try you cant please everyone :)) which is why its good to run several activities at once. BUT don't wear yourself out doing it, its common in our industry. As hard as it is, leave work at work! Don't over commit yourself or make promises you cant keep. I'd also like to say I've seen many Activities Officers look great because they have big numbers at their activities but when you go to these activities only one or two are truly engaged and therefore are not getting any benefit of the activity! Its not our job to bully residents into or to discourage residents from attending, its our job to make them want to go and to participate as best as they can :) (you will pick this skill up over time. I'd say it takes at least 18 months to train someone or longer if your on your own). It will be hard. But when you get a smile from a resident who hasn't smiled in ages it makes it all worth it. Its my 5th year in Activities and I'm still learning more everyday. Best of luck! Welcome to the best job in the world!
Anthea 13th Dec 2016 Activities Coordinator
Hi Melissa and thank you for that great advice. I've been in activities for two years now and just really learning that if you make the activity easy to understand, fun enough and full of enthusiasm, you may get a few more joining in than you thought and YES!..... it is the most wonderful job in the world!
Anthea 13th Dec 2016 Activities Coordinator
Hi Adele

Something to engage 99% of your residence and a very good ice breaker is punch balloon and music. Blow up punch Balloon ( these are the best as they blow up BIG and float in the air much better than normal balloons), put on some 60s music or something they relate to, stand in the middle of the room and hit the balloon to each resident saying good morning to them by name at the same time. They will invariably hit it back then you move onto the next one. It has been a really big success at the home I work at and has literally brought people out of themselves. I hope this is helpful.
Hanif 13th Dec 2016
Thank you for your feedback Melissa and Anthea. I really enjoy the job so far but do sometimes feel quiet challenged by my own confidence. But I think I will get there with time and perseverance. The balloon idea is excellent, I think I will be trying that soon.

Thank you again.

Any ideas on how to overcome the confidence issue would be greatly appreciated.

Adele x
Solange 14th Dec 2016 Diversional Therapist
You will be fine Adele! Best wishes.
Kim 20th Dec 2016 Registered Nurse
Adele you will be fine, when you see the smiles and the reactions from your residents your confidence will grow. No one activity will suit all so vary it and keep it simple but at the same time a bit of a challenge. Depending on the capability of your residents you may like to have a quiz activity and you will find some great quiz items in every golden carers editions. Reminiscing is always a good activity especially if you can get some props from early times. Sometimes the local libraries have education boxes you can borrow. Good luck, have fun and just know that what ever you do you are making a difference to someone's life.

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