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What activities do older people want in care homes?

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3 February, 2014

Last week we reported that residents at a Gloucestershire care home can now enjoy a game of darts or their favourite drink, thanks to the introduction of a pop-up pub.

The pub is a pop-up “pod”, meaning the whole room can be taken down quickly and new themed areas introduced in its place at little additional cost.

The College of Occupational Therapists has recently published Living Well through Activity in Care Homes Toolkit which illustrated how activity is possible, even with few resources.


Let’s discuss…

  • How do you define activities? Do they have to be a communal events, such as tea parties or film clubs?
  • What is the purpose of activities?
  • What activities should we provide for older people in care homes?

Readers' comments (11)

  • Fran Entwistle

    I think this is an important question. A pub might not be for everyone, but then again neither is tea parties and bingo! So important to recognise everyone as individuals to provide person-centred care.

    Perhaps care home residents should be asked "what do you like to do in your spare time?" as a standard question when they move in. Does this happen?

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  • Old people seem much younger now, they're activities need updating. They should be asked what they want. If they enjoy it they will join in that way they'll be more active which, as long as they are safe can only be a good thing.

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  • Activities in care homes seem to be always directed as group activities, not for individuals, need to ask the residents, not make assumptions!

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 8-Feb-2014 1:36 am

    Exactly. Also it would be nice if they had someone who spent time talking with them individually, in an ideal world. I find out more during an assessment than some of the home care staff know about residents who have been in their care for years, because they have such low staffing levels, they cannot afford them this extra time to sit and just talk. Most folk I meet in the homes are very depressed and lonely even though they are in a room full of other people.

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  • When I visit an aunt in a RH, I try and avoid the singing session, as I find it annoying and often patronising, so it wouldn't be for me. However, there seems to be some that do. Therefore, there should be another room where those that want to participate can do, and those that don't, needn't have it inflicted upon them. That is just one example. I am in my 60's myself, but don't want to be singing, 'we'll meet again' or the 'white cliffs of Dover'. Like a previous post, ideas need updating. Cares in RH homes don't have the time, but could employ an activities person, and make good use of the community and encourage volunteers to come and talk to them. Perhaps take someone out to a local shop, or just to get out of 4 walls, and away from the non-stimulating environment. Some RH have outings, but again it is as a group, with all it's stigma (sadly).

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  • Well, I'm not so far off the relevant age group, so maybe I ought to start thinking through my care home requirements.

    Personally, I fancy all-night movies, a decent bar, a warm swimming pool, a library with a chaise longue, a gym where I can exercise and natter and a swing in the garden. I want to eat my usual food when I get hungry, not grey lumps of dead animal in brown sludge.

    Since learning is lifelong, I want to learn to use a gun because it might stop people bothering me with unwanted group activities or their loud pop music.

    You can unplug the TV, close the bingo hall and usher out that hearty volunteer with the electric organ who wants to do singsongs.

    I don't think anyone will want to share a room with me...

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  • 'Miserable!' I feel most Care home's carers , even if they wish to sit down and have a chat with certain individuals who in their life enjoy a one to one chat, never get the time, due to being short staffed.
    In a care home that I work in, there is an activities co-ordinator/personel, but there is too much patronising as residends end up forced to do what is against their wishes.
    T o my knowledge , these residents are asked about their hobbies as they are admited but it soon dies away as the chance to do what they want is swallowed by short-staffing.
    By the end of the day these end up sitting miserable because they never enjoy what is being done.
    Singing is good to a few who enjoy it.I support that it would be better if different volunteers would be allowed to come in and engage these people into some one to one chats.

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  • Care Rocks is a social enterprise and provides a quality learning activity for older people in the community, including a diverse range of care homes. We focus on science and getting individuals in care, thinking, talking and discussing the world. Help spread the word about Care Rocks!

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  • it is vital that residents express their own wishes and don't have everything decided for them. I would suggest as wide a range of activities as possible first focusing on developing their own hobbies and interests, skills and talents, activities which are both mentally and physically stimulating within their own limitations, group, family and individual activities which include others from outside of all ages, interesting talks/debates/lectures/reading groups/, singing and dancing are often popular and therapeutic, some integration into the community and regular outings for those who are able including shopping trips, maybe a coffee, meal or drinks outside the home, a special meal or afternoon tea in the home, and some interesting excursions. All of the above needs to be organised and coordinated by specially trained occupational therapists in care of the elderly and gerontology with the support of nurses, HCAs and other staff. The British need to wake up and use some initiative and imagination, most of this is standard in care homes for the elderly around the rest of Europe.

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  • Oh ,is sad to go in a care home and see people are so lonely and bored .Where I am working at the moment the staff and the Nurses are amazing they love the residents and they really care about them. Some of the staff even bought shoes or clothes. Some of the Carers bring home made jam or cakes.
    The truth is the atmosphere in Nursing homes or Home Care or residential Home is painfully boring and definitely needs some major changing.
    Is not about only offering care, compassion is about offering time, the big problem is short of staff and is vital to have someone who is responsible for activities.
    Like: gardening, cooking ,painting ,a pastor visit maybe in Sunday (some of the residents where I been working they used to go to a church every Sunday and they said they really miss that).I really appreciate some of my staff that offered to take out for a cake or cup of tea ,just to change the environment ,some of the residents that still could walk and this without any financial support .
    Definitely needs a Significant change in this area.

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  • properly organised, resourced and with adequate facilities to benefit and enhance every individual, care of the elderly is very rewarding work and can also offer a challenging and interesting specialty in several different branches with good interdisciplinary collaboration and a well established career structure. see how it is managed more successfully in some other countries, compare and learn all that their models have to offer instead of muddling through as often seems to be the case in the UK.

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