The COVID-19 situation, whilst it seems to be under control in Australia, remains challenging for all sectors, including Aged Care. As the Australian government strive to adapt to this health crisis’s ever-changing conditions, we have to remember to key yet contradicting elements: Life must go on, yet we must protect the vulnerable.
People in aged care homes have been greatly affected, as they fall into the vulnerable category, and for most of 2020 they are cut off from the outside world. Restricted or no visitors and no social events has left those living in retirement facilities at risk of social isolation and disengagement.
In this article, we have created a guide to help you plan and organise activities for your residents. We also included ideas that you can implement to keep your residents connected and engaged with their families and the community, whilst keeping them safe.
Why are community activities necessary for the elderly?
Through the years, aged care facilities have been addressing the issue of social isolation and loneliness for elderly people. From keeping them connected with their families to using technology to help them with their daily routine, organisations have also constantly set up community activities and social groups for residents. Being involved and keeping them active in communities and social groups has several benefits for your residents, which includes:
- reducing social isolation
- delay age-related memory loss
- Increased confidence and enjoyment of life
- Improved physical health and well-being
- Opportunities to express their needs and ideas
- Connecting with retirees who have the same opinions, aspirations and interests
Planning and Organising Activities During Lockdown
Compliance is one way to ensure providers meet the safety requirements that can be checked through assessments, reviews and client feedback.
The government released a National COVID-19 Aged Care Plan “to guide the ongoing response to COVID-19 in aged care and provides the framework to support the aged care sector (residential and home-based care) to prevent, prepare, respond and recover from COVID-19”. It provides information and tools to help older Australians, their families, the aged care workforce and aged care service providers during the pandemic.
The government also presented an Industry Code for Visiting Residential Aged Care Homes during COVID-19 that contains restrictions or strict compliance requirements when visiting an aged care home. They introduced partnerships in care, a person-centric approach where an individual (partner in care) who has an existing relationship with the resident establishes an agreement between the resident and the aged care organisation to assist in the resident’s day-to-day activities.
With these protocols in place, family members or casual visitors can seek to arrange a visiting schedule with the resident, but with restrictions depending on the tier escalation that determines the required level of visitation and other restrictions.
To ensure proper coordination and service quality are given to the residents, compliance forms are part of the paperwork to keep consistent processes in place every time there’s an activity scheduled. Several forms can be filled out, such as health compliance forms and participation forms.
Community Activity Management
Care Management Software is now being utilised to help lifestyle managers and aged care workers streamline these processes during events. Besides helping your teams with compliance forms, you can use this management software for reporting details of the event, such as a list of activities and attendees. Staff can also publish necessary policies, procedures, and guidelines for the residents to review for updates in the community.
READ MORE: Essential Tools for Lifestyle Managers
Lifestyle managers can also use this software to manage social activities, such as sending out social activity schedules to notify staff, residents, and families about the events happening inside the retirement homes. It can also help you keep the engagement going even if your residents are in their private spaces using video calls and chat activity during online community gatherings.
This care management software is an excellent tool for aged care organisations to lessen paperwork and documentation processes to focus on planning a great activity experience for the elderly.
Activity Ideas for Residents
There are many ways to engage your residents and make them feel connected during these times, from keeping them busy with their hobbies, guiding them to communicate with family and friends, helping them navigate technology devices, and using mobile applications for games and other tools for engagement. Here are some activities for your residents to enjoy that you can organise during a lockdown.
READ MORE: Retirement Living Like Never Before
Online and Digital Activities
Technology such as smartphones, tablets, Smart TVs and Virtual assistant devices offer various ways to keep them engaged and active even when they’re alone. Many mobile applications can be used for games, reading, and communicating with their loved ones.
Bingo is a great pass time for the elderly and it can be done anywhere! It’s trendy for older people (that even Matthew McConaughey started joining in!) from their own homes to retirement facilities. Besides being a fun activity, bingo has several benefits for the elderly, including:
- Practices memory recall
- Improvement in cognitive function
- Better hand-eye coordination
- Decreases risk in mental illness
Even though the pandemic has socially distanced us, some aged care facilities have innovated to keep the activities going for their resident. Organisations got creative in bringing bingo games to the elderly such as customised bingo baskets delivered to their rooms, hallway bingo and online bingo sessions that can be downloaded using tablets or smartphones.
Virtual Field trips and Events
During the pandemic’s peak, some technology companies have collaborated with aged care facilities to help residents have virtual visits to places and events using online maps, tablets, and virtual reality.
Virtual events were also organised to keep the elderly engaged such as setting up weekly or daily video calls with volunteers to continuously build connections with the community even we’re forced to be socially distanced from each other. Others have also set up virtual concerts to cheer up residents and aged care workers who missed spending the holiday season with their families because of the pandemic.
Watch Livestream Concerts
Listening to music is an essential activity for elderly people to keep them engaged and connected with others. Before pandemic, aged care organisations used to facilitate music therapy sessions by music therapists or musicians.
Now, many aged care providers are using music and technology to connect and entertain their residents during the lockdown by live streaming concerts, live music and even streaming operas that also used virtual reality to make it possible.
Listening to Online Podcasts
Technology has also paved the way for online podcasts that the elderly can subscribe to and listen to that offers practical information on different aspects of life. Podcasts are an excellent way for the elderly to engage with wider society and learn new ideas, hear new perspectives, and find great conversational topics.
Podcasts can take your residents to places they weren’t able to visit. Want to know more about historical sites around the world? There’s a podcast for that. Want to learn more about your retirement options? There are available podcasts for that too. Podcasts tackle almost all discussions now, from educational or inspirational topics about life, health and well-being to just mundane topics that your residents want to listen to; there are available podcasts that will keep your residents entertained.
In-home Activity Ideas
Having fun with hobbies and crafts
Engaging your residents in hands-on crafting has many benefits, such as positively impacting motor, social, and cognitive skills. Crafting can also help lessen some of the stress and anxiety your residents might be feeling because of the pandemic.
Many crafting activities don’t require expertise and will only need materials that are already available at home. A few examples of activities you can work with your clients are:
- drawing and coloring
- DIY coloured sand bottles
- DIY bookmarks
- Making wrapping paper envelopes
- Sewing a memory quilt
- In-door gardening
Playing games and puzzles
It’s always fun playing games and puzzles with your residents! Here are some of the best games for the elderly so that you can keep them happy and active even they’re staying at home or in their rooms.
Games provide many ways to have fun, either playing alone or as part of a social group. They keep boredom away, relieve stress, and community engagements more enjoyable for your residents. Playing games also helps our brains exercise!
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Word Games (crossword puzzles, Sudoku, Scrabble)
- Chess and Checkers
- Card Games
- Board Games (Chutes and Ladders, Connect Four, Othello, etc.)
Whatever activity you are planning and organising, always remember to work together with your residents to know more about their interests to ensure the activities scheduled for them meet their needs and are a fun experience for everyone.
Contact CareVision today to find out how we can help your lifestyle managers in retirement homes manage aged care residents’ activities and ensure compliance with health protocols during a pandemic. You can book a free demo or contact us at 1300 324 070 today.