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Nursing home residents need more activities to ‘thrive’


Engagement in everyday activities implemented as nursing interventions can enable residents to thrive in nursing homes, according to researchers, who warn that more need to be encouraged.

They noted that previous research on engagement in everyday activities in nursing homes had focused primarily on associations with quality of life and prevention and management of neuropsychiatric symptoms.

“Positive associations were found between activity engagement and thriving”

Study authors

However, they highlighted that the mere absence of symptoms does not necessarily guarantee experiences of wellbeing.

In their survey of staff from 172 Swedish nursing homes, most residents had been outside the nursing home during the previous week, but only one-fifth had been on an outing or excursion.

The most commonly occurring everyday activities were receiving hugs and physical touch, talking to relatives/friends and receiving visitors, having conversation with staff not related to care and grooming.

But very few residents visited a restaurant, engaged in an education programme, went to the cinema, or even engaged in activities such as hobbies and parlour games, said the reseachers.

“Positive associations were found between activity engagement and thriving, where engagement in an activity program, dressing nicely and spending time with someone the resident likes had the strongest positive association with resident thriving,” said the study authors in the Journal of Advanced Nursing.

The researchers said their findings could inform staff and managers to promote increased engagement in everyday activities for nursing home residents to support their wellbeing.

“The study demonstrates that activities are an important approach to increasing thriving, and that everyday activities can be conceptualised and implemented as nursing interventions to facilitate resident thriving as opposed to resident surviving in nursing home care,” said lead author Sabine Björk from Umeå University.


Readers' comments (4)

  • Rosemary Gondwe Mazhandu

    This has been long overdue. Activities is what is needed as there is a lot of loneliness in the homes, with too many restrictions and bland diets which leave residents not eating. I had the belief that care homes are just there for safety purposes when one is not able to tend to themselves but be in an environment which can provide that and continue to live their life style they wish to live had their safety not been compromised. In my old age I don't want to diet. All i want is to eat what I like, sleep for as long as I want.All this can be achieved by having more staff at hand.

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  • and increased motivation through more understanding of person centred care ?

    The difference in patients living active lives with activities relevant to them personally and those who are just being tended to as non individuals is phenomenal.

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  • Activity nurse/worker needs funded and time to prepare and do activities one to one or group and also what client enjoys and it should not be condecending

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  • The College of Occupational Therapy have been championing this for the last couple of years. Its not about 'providing activities' it is about the whole ethos of homes encouraging meaningful, personalised, occupation for their residents throughout the day. It is easy to do and needn't cost anything at all. There are fantastic free toolkits available for everyone to use at Please have a look and spread the word

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