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Senior Activity Coordinator From Carlow, Ireland


Elisa 25th May 2019 Senior Activity Coordinator


I agree with Susan that limits of time vary greatly.

I just wanted to say that attention is limited for everybody regardless of age or disability. Psychologists suggest sustained attention spans from 10min to 45min depending on who writes the paper.
This might be what the nurse was referring to.

Healthy adults can redirect attention easily, and thus keep atention long enough to watch a film or a concert. And will not be stopped by fatigue.
People who have cognitive, mental or physical problems have both difficulties redirecting their attention and will fatigue sooner.

I do limit the length of any formal group activity to an hour of actual running time (non counting getting everybody in and out) because I don't want to risk residents getting fatigue but not because they won't be able to.
To help residents redirect attention, with external provider is difficult to do something if they are not very engaging. But when I design the activity I deliberately introduce attention catching elements like
- a 1min add every 10-15min when watching a film.
-Dropping my book if I am reading during book club
-changing music genre during sing along.
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.
Elisa 12th Apr 2019 Senior Activity Coordinator


Sorry would you be able to be more detailed?
In general if your residents need to sleep during the day, they should be able to and it doesn't necessarily mean that the level of care is bad.
In the UK one sees the words "meaningful activity" often, a meaningful activity can last minutes but the benefits might last hours.
And in general environmental interventions ( an area with appropriately curated music, rummaging boxes, colouring things left on tables...) have greater impact on the residents wellbeing that us telling them what to do specially when ther needs are high.
Elisa 7th Apr 2019 Senior Activity Coordinator


Sorry, I copied the link incomplete.
This should work well.
Elisa 7th Apr 2019 Senior Activity Coordinator


Solanges ideas are great for those resident's who are more able.
If your resident has cognitive or physical impairment I would recommend that you have a look at Montessori tasks. There are various books with plenty of ideas but I just prefer to look at Montessori pages for children and either buy the least childish or make one.
Construction sets are great, my residents enjoy building with a organic chemistry set that I got from Alibaba. I have people who like 'making things right' so i give them a complicated model to undo and put back in the box in order.
But as Susan said is a question of seing what works for each individual.

Elisa 5th Apr 2019 Senior Activity Coordinator


Hi, I agree with Susan that looking into a day centre or respite service for your husband and a suport group for you is very important.
If you are in the UK I recommend assisting to a Dementia Cafe which are organised by Alzheimer's UK and are open to the wide public, they always have great information about local resources.
Regarding things to do with your husband, I would encourage both of you to do work around your life history and personal preferences.
A scrapbook of important events and people with photos and short captions, a box of objects that are meaningful or bring back good feelings and if your husband enjoys music, a playlist of favourite songs. This is usually an enjoyable long term project for everybody in the family and will be useful in the future to anybody who comes into contact with your husband.
I leave you two templates, one short one speciallydesigned to help heslthprofessionalzs
And this one from golden carers
I hope this helps
Elisa 5th Apr 2019 Senior Activity Coordinator


My manager seems to appreciate, however I still have more difficulties explaining to nurses and care assistants why 30 people in a room for a group qctiviry might not be a good idea and why residents should not be left in a single place just because it's easier not to move them around regardless of their interest or ability.
Elisa 4th Apr 2019 Senior Activity Coordinator


Hi Sharon,

I am of the opinion that dividing groups into interests and ability is indispensable for an activity program to be effective.

However, when I say dividing, I don't necessarily mean into separate rooms if the room you are located is big enough.

I used to work in a dementia specific unit where most of the residents sat in the sitting room. When I started working there all the seats were against the walls in a big circle with the TV as the focal point. We rearranged the chairs and the TV sothere were three separate areas. The TV went to a corner, the furthest from the door, with some seats around it. Then there were some clusters of 2 to 4 chairs around tea tables. Finally, there a smaller semicircle of chairs near the door. We used a smart tv so the area near the tv was audiovisual stimulation for those less able (old music, animal videos, landscapes, baby videos, colours and shapes, guided meditation, etc.), the small clusters around tables were for people who could do things to entertain themselves, magazines, jigsaws, pen and paper puzzles, colouring, etc. And the semicircle was for the more social who enjoyed group activities. I divided my time between and sometimes would ask people to move to different seats if i knew they would enjoy something I was doing in the group, for example a lady who was almost never able to do things in groups but who knew all the proverbs.

I hope this helps you
Elisa 4th Apr 2019 Senior Activity Coordinator


Hi, I have a system to help floor staff to help residents move to specific locations at specific times for group activities or just to avoid "warehousing" and overcrowding rooms. I make lists of residents with times and locations that are available for the staff to consult.
It is not a panacea, and it is time consuming but at least if it is not followed you can go to the line manager and ask for reasons why it has not been followed.

So for example, where I work now all the residents used to go to the activity room for exercises (25 to 35 residents every day) and many could not follow the exercises due to disability or did not want to do exercises. So I started the list, and now we have 17 residents who want to do the exercises and can manage a big group, and the rest are helped into a "Morning club" led by a carer that focusess more on residents with higher needs and a siting room for those who want a relaxed morning.

I would make a list for each day, for each room and each "activity". So in the morning there was a list for the exercises, a list for the morning club and a list for the TV room and in the afternoon there was a list for each sitting room, and each planned activity. If one has acces to a computer and printer, it is easier as you can copy and paste, I do not have access to a computer so is is done by hand on a whipe clean pages. Those lists are given to the nurse in charge in the afternoon for the next morning and the nurse have to read them aloud during the morning handover and are left in a handy place to be consulted when needed. Once everybody gets used to the system, I started writing the list of the group activities only.

Elisa 29th Mar 2019 Senior Activity Coordinator


There is a great book about reading and dementia
Reading in the Moment: Activities and Stories to Share with Adults with Dementia by Anne Vize.
I run a group in my home and we do both, giving copies to each resident to read together or in turns and somebody reading the full story aloud.
But most of the time, I read for them and we talk about the story as most of my residents have very low levels of education but enjoy stories.