Having an interesting and varied activities programme in place can make a significant difference to your residents, it’ll enable your care staff to be more focused on care delivery, and it can also help your CQC rating.
On many of the crisis management assignments we’ve completed, and on some of the compliance visits we undertake, we find that the activities programme receives little or not enough attention.
In some Homes, it is common for the Activities Co-ordinator to end up working as a Carer due to staff shortages. Many Homes don’t have a specific budget for activities and therefore, staff end up having to fundraise for any monies they require or beg and borrow to ensure they have items that can be used for activities. They may be reluctant to ask the provider for funds as activities aren’t regarded as an important function.
Keeping residents’ active and engaged in games and activities that they enjoy, will help with their overall wellbeing. Conversely, a lack of stimulating activities and inactivity will lead to boredom and frustration.
Here are some ideas to help create an effective, varied and engaging activities programme, or enhance an existing programme.
How much Time and Budget for a Good Activities Programme?
Although there are no hard and fast rules about the staffing and funding needed for an activities programme, a good rule of thumb is at least an hour per week per resident and £10 per resident per month.
Therefore, based on a 40-bed Home, there should be at least one full-time Activities Co-ordinator and a budget of £400 per month. If the £400 isn’t spent each month, it should be protocol that the left-over money is saved for the activities budget, and used for larger spends such as hiring transport for trips to the beach or the local park, etc.
This isn’t a significant investment, but if it is in place consistently, it will make such a positive difference!
Likewise, when this isn’t in place, there is likely to be lethargy and frustrations evident amongst your resident group. Additional pressure will be put upon care staff as they try to carry out their own work, but also have to come up with activities to keep residents occupied.
Increasing your Weekly Activities Hours
Keep in mind that based on the simple sums for a 40-bed Home, one Activities Co-ordinator cannot provide the range of activities to suit all residents for the whole week. Often, there aren’t activities in the evening or on the weekends, even though this can be a lonely time for some residents.
Below are a few suggestions as to how you could boost your activities time each week:
Anyone involved as a volunteer must of course be DBS checked and this can be arranged in the same way as you do for your employed staff. The owner should inform their insurers that you are making use of volunteers. Telling your insurer is more of a FYI, than anything else.
Support your Activities Co-ordinator
Help them to manage the activities programme more effectively. For example:
Homes should think about covering the activities staff when they’re on holiday or absent due to sickness, etc. In our experience, when the Activities Co-ordinator is absent, the activities programme stops.
Getting Friends & Relatives Involved in the Activities Programmes
Finally, it really helps to have a private Facebook group for friends and relatives, for the following reasons:
A well-managed Facebook group can be very reassuring for friends and relatives and help them to feel more involved in life at the Home.
As well as improving your residents’ overall wellbeing, a varied, engaging and well-planned activities programme will definitely impress your CQC inspector.
A Care Home or Nursing Home cannot be considered a ‘good’ service if it doesn’t have a meaningful activities programme.
Investing in a good activities programme creates benefits all round, including:
A good activities programme is 100% worth the investment, and should be seen as a vital component of care provision.
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