Safe Activities for Care Homes During COVID- 19 Pandemic
COVID-19 has put the kibosh on communal activities in senior care communities. At the very least, social distancing measures have made group activities hard to navigate. Many Activity Coordinators have been furloughed. Others have had to get creative through lockdown, coming up with new methods for keeping residents safe but still active and connected. Here are some great group activity ideas that can be facilitated within government guidelines. Those of you with elderly loved ones at home can adapt some of these, too!
Physical Distance, Social Solidarity
Seated exercise: With chairs spaced apart according to guidelines, seniors can safely keep active. If an instructor cannot be present, there are plenty of videos online for chair yoga, Tai Chi, resistance band exercises, etc.
Outdoor entertainment: Throughout lockdown, many entertainers have still been performing for seniors from outside the care facility. Whether residents watch from windows or distance themselves outdoors, they can still enjoy all their favorites, from music to magic tricks. Some residential communities have been coming up with themed days. For instance, having trivia, snacks, a music performance, and a movie all centered around a certain decade or theme. Staff may join in by wearing clothes to match the theme.
Armchair travel: Use an HDMI cable to connect a computer to a TV with a large screen. Pull up Google Earth on the computer and virtually travel various places with your residents. You could also look up good YouTube videos that highlight tours or cool destinations in a particular city. You could even go all out and have staff dress up as attendants, going around with a snack and beverage cart, just like they would on an airplane or train.
Pen pals: During lockdown, many care homes have been organizing pen pal schemes. Residents will remember when snail mail was the main form of long-distance communication! This could be a great thing to reminisce about. Whether you partner with a school, another care community, or the general public, the blossoming new relationship will be exciting. Plus, who doesn’t love getting a letter in the mail?
Silent disco dance: While silent discos are generally associated with younger generations, they’re trending in care homes! If you’ve never heard of a silent disco, it’s where everyone wears a headset with different music channels that you can flip through. This gives individuals control over volume and type of music. To a passerby, it’s quite a sight to see a bunch of people dancing in silence. In reality, everyone is enjoying the music together! Sweet Silent Disco is a good company to look up if you’re interested in seeing how this works and offering it to your seniors.
Comedy hour: Everyone sits appropriately distanced but comes prepared with written or printed off jokes and stories. During a time like this, it’s important to keep a sense of humor and have a laugh!
Remote control car races: Many senior living communities have been incorporating remote control car races for residents. From their respective doorways, residents can race one another or cheer on the car they think will win. You can even have prizes or create an ongoing sports bracket to accompany this activity.
Doorway bingo: Routine, traditional activities can be a comfort to residents in a time of change. With hallway activities like doorway Bingo, residents can come to their doorways and a member of staff calls out the numbers from the hall. This allows for everyone to be distanced from each other while still being able to participate in a beloved, classic game.
Personalized activity baskets: Person-centered care ideas are wonderful for a time like this. When residents are unable to get visits from friends and family or socialize normally with their peers, they’re likely to not feel quite like themselves. The personalization of these baskets will go a long way in making them feel special and loved. For instance, if you have a resident that loves doodling, you might consider adding some new pens, a paint by numbers or adult coloring book, and a puzzle of a painting they love. This is a great activity to get relatives involved with as well. They may have great ideas for themes or items they’d want to drop off/mail in to contribute.
It is also worth considering a systems like StoriiCare at this time. StoriICare helps senior care staff share, care and connect with residents and families by offering person-centered engagement tools, digital signage, calendar management and activity participation tracking, and a designated family app.