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Michelle 13th Jul 2018 Activity Coordinator
We have 3 units with 15 residents in each unit , the units have mixed capacity . I was wondering if anyone can tell me if it's normal to have only a few residents each day that are interested in taking part ?
I find one to one a lot better as you really get to engage with the person and it is always a success but when it comes to group activity there isn't a lot of interest. My manager has asked me to make a folder for each resident to show person centred activities but I am finding it hard to gather much information and without sounding horrible reading their biography they didn't have hobbies or really any interests I was actually shocked by this .
My manager would like to see the residents continue with their interests but I can't seem to find out much or there is no record .
Solange 13th Jul 2018 Diversional Therapist
Hi Michelle, I know what you mean. You are quite right about one to one, you couldn't get any more person-center than undivided individual attention. But your manager is right too, while you attend

​some​ other​s​ go unattended. Try to find out via their families what sort of leisure they did in the past. Most likely they were busy with life in the past and only now they are ready to take on a hobby. The best thing is to start with very small groups like two or three people and engage them with Cards/ Puzzles/Word Search/ Find the Differences/Word Game. You would have to gather three like-minded residents so they can cooperate with each other. Meanwhile, you could be nearby with another small group. Eventually, you will need a volunteer or two to help you out and make the groups a little larger. All the best!
Margaret 19th Jul 2018 Senior Carer/activity Co-ordinator
HI Michelle I started the activity coordinators role in may and was finding it quite difficult to get all the residents involved as only a couple would turn up I went round to customers flats and asked about their back ground history and their hobbies were of what activities they would like to see put on in which I had good feed back and find their are a few more residents taking part in the activities.
the golden carers site is really good as residents are enjoying all the paper work that is sent
they enjoyed doing the name the film stars and the quizzes.
Olwyn 18th May 2019 Diversional Therapist
Hi Michelle,
Yes, this can be a problem- connecting in a person-centred way with residents that did not have a history of doing any hobbies and state they had no past interests. (Our facility is in a small rural dairy area, where large families were the norm, and women having hobbies or interests outside the family, UNHEARD OF) However, I found that by digging a little deeper, and the following things bought a smile and interaction. Initially, I had to dig around in their profile to find historical events from the towns, or regions they grew up in. Sometimes I hit gold by doing this. But the following usually elicits warm fuzzies...
Anything about dogs, cooking, ladies natter and chatter groups discussing fashions of the day (the local theatrical group loaned us some costumes for a display), the best movie stars of the day, one lady grew up on the family apple orchard, so I arranged for an apple tasting (as many varieties as I could find),Another time we had an ic cream flavours tasting afternoon. Sometimes I do the homes ironing while we chat, and quizzes are always fun. Our faves are "words starting with".
Hope some of these ideas help,
Susan 19th May 2019 Activity Director
Michelle I hope you can use some of these great ideas with your residents

I hope your manager realizes that residents change over time

I had good attendance at my activities because I have some of the suggestions mentioned
I find that music activities are a good choice for many because there are so many things you can do
Here is a suggestion on golden Carers https://www.goldencarers.com/how-to-plan-music-activities-for-dementia-care/3192/
These ideas work whether the residents have dementia or not

I also like to have one to one activities with in a group so you can address each person individually but have a group setting
Jean 24th May 2019 Activities Provider
It is difficult to do a group activity when you are working with mixed ability. Having a sing along may be 1 option, some may be able to sing others may only listen but remember if the toes are tapping they are engaged
Susan 24th May 2019 Activity Director
You are right Jean
Jana 25th May 2019 Programs Manager
I always try to think if it were me. Would I want to attend every program offered? Probably not. Its OK to have private down time. Just give them options and let them pick what they want. Don't get your feelings hurt when they don't attend. You cant make everyone happy every time. Remember they worked most of their lives and had no time for hobbies.
Elisa 25th May 2019 Senior Activity Coordinator
Hi Michelle,
I agree that sometimes it is difficult to find past interest of the residents, specially if the lived in rural areas or have a lot of cognitive impairment.

I use a tool from the Model of Human Occupation called "Interest Checklist" to document interest in a person centered way.
It has a list of common passtimes and three columns; past, present and future. This allows to write what they used to do before, what the do now and what they would like to keep doing or try out in the future. This tool has copyright but it is easy to create a list of possible interests (you will need at lest 20 varied ones).

The role of the Activity coordinator is to facilitate activities, knowing past interst is very useful but being old and in an institution does not mean that people cannot find a new interest or that they won't like to try out something new.

Also, when thinking of groups, I find useful to transform the numbers of people you get to percentages. If your unit has 15 people, a group of 7 or 8 represent 50% of residents. It would be very unusual to find something that will be enjoyed by half the population. So if whatever you are doing gest an attendance of 5 you are actualy engaging with a third of your population, which is quite a sucess.
Susan 25th May 2019 Activity Director
I agree with Elise and Jana has some good ideas to
Hopefully this will help you
Molly 5th Jun 2019 Activity Professional & Writer
Wow, there are so many wonderful suggestions here! Thank you, Michelle, for such a thoughtful question.

1:1 's are great ways to ensure everyone is receiving proper social pursuits.

There are so many factors into participation, but have you tried asking the aids/nurses for help? If they know what activities are going on, they are better able to pitch them to the residents and may even bring them down.

Also, you may want to try changing up your calendar routine we all need to have specific items on the calendar but jazzing it up with new activity ideas or trips and entertainment could be fun ways to entice them out of their room.

We've even held activities in common areas to peak the interest of those listening from their apartment.
Susan 6th Jun 2019 Activity Director
Molly thank you
More good ideas for you Michelle
Kim 4th Aug 2019 Activities Director
I used to not like having a group with only 3 or 4 people. Yet you can have a high-quality activity with that few. I think it's also important to remember that you want a mix of activities on your calendar--large group, small group, and one-to-one. Not every activity has to be large group.
Kim 4th Aug 2019 Activities Director
To get more residents involved in activities, I find that it is helpful to have the activity in the lobby or commons area. We have several residents who like to be in the lobby, residents who would not come to the activities room for an activity, but who like to join in sometimes in groups held in the lobby. Also, staff and passers-by can jump in for spelling, trivia, list-making, word games, etc. Our residents enjoy having staff join their activities, even if only for a short time. And I think having a bustling, involved and interested air about the place looks good to visitors.
Susan 7th Aug 2019 Activity Director
A New Article
How to get reluctant
Residents to attend an activity is now available I am sure you will find it helpful
https://www.goldencarers.com/how-to-get-reluctant-residents-to-attend-activities/5980/
Susan 14th Aug 2019 Activity Director
This is true Kim
Elisa 17th Aug 2019 Senior Activity Coordinator
I have some moral problems with planning big group activities in common areas, as it reduces the residents ability to decline to take place (as where else will they go) and some might juts just take part because they think they will be scorned if they don't.
Group activities have the same potential to do harm than to do good, I am sure you all have experienced a resident becoming anxious during a group just because of the task itself.
I once went to do an interview in a nursing home where they were doing sing along in the huge reception lobby, there was a core group of residents who were very involved sitting in formation in the middle while the rest of residents who you could feel had "their own seats" in the lobby were much far away. Yes, a few of them were singing but a few others were not and one of them was saying that somebody had invaded his space.

That said, I am all for small group interaction anywhere in the home including the lobby, for leaving resources spread around the home for everybody to use (including visitors).
Susan 18th Aug 2019 Activity Director
This is an interesting perspective Elisa

It is nice to be able to provide many small groups for residents to engage in
However many places do not have enough staff to do this so larger groups are the better option
It is best to know your residents so that you can offer them the best option for them
There are just so many variables so it is best to know the situation and how to effectively engage most of the residents in the way they like to be involved

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