Many nursing homes have dedicated “activity personnel” who coordinate activity programs for residents, which include events such as bingo, trivia hour, musical entertainment and holiday crafts. Formal activities are important because they help residents socialize, get them out of their rooms, and sometimes (though we’d love to see more) encourage physical activity.
Often though, scheduled activities occur at the same times each day and for some residents, these times don’t work well with their daily routines. Their sleep and energy patterns don’t always sync with what’s planned on the weekly calendar. Or they may not have the cognitive ability to participate in what’s planned. What then? Do they miss out on their only opportunity for activity, meaningful interaction and fun?
Encourage all staff to lead spontaneous activities throughout the day as their time permits and reward them when they do. Just 10 minutes here and there can make a big difference and prevent boredom and agitation in residents with dementia. Look around your environment…are there foam noodles, art supplies, and other things kept nearby that a GNA, nurse or even a family member can grab quickly? Have some music CD’s handy with a CD player in the common areas or near dining rooms. You’d be surprised at how quickly a dance party can start just by turning on some tunes! By providing GNA’s and other staff with these tools, they will have options to turn to when a resident could benefit from distraction and activity.
Have a great week, don’t forget to send us your short tidbits for our tidbit contest, and Happy New Year!