Activity Coordinators can often be seen as a godsend to busy care home staff in that they bring fun and laughter to residents whilst also freeing up some much-needed time for other carers to go about their daily tasks.
However, providing activities during the Coronavirus outbreak is now proving to be something of a headache for those concerned. The residents are often confined to stay indoors and sometimes even in their rooms if self-isolation rules are in place. In some cases, the Activity Coordinators are not able to attend their workplace thus the general care staff are having to step in and do the provision themselves.
But what activities can be used at this time? And what about cross contamination? These are very real fears but with some forward planning, anyone can still provide safe, fun activities for all abilities.
Coronavirus’ Life on Various Surfaces
Paper & card Up to 24 hours*
Metal Up to 72 hours*
Plastic Up to 72 hours*
Fabric Up to 4 hours*
*all times are approximate and some data suggests times could be longer.
The best way to deal with this is to sanitise all non-porous surfaces thoroughly before and after use by residents. Where possible, allow each to dry naturally. Ensure participants wash and dry their hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based sanitising fluid.
Suggested Activities for Social Distancing
Seat participants a minimum of two metres apart and ensure there is good ventilation. For keeping fit, try and avoid games and pastimes that involve more than one person handling an object i.e. throwing and catching a ball. Either ensure each participant has their own or maybe organise a circuit where each person does something different e.g. stretching a band, bouncing a beach ball, squeezing a bean bag, kicking a balloon tied to the ankle, shaking some maracas. Exercise DVDs are ideal as everyone can follow along from wherever they are sitting or standing.
Arts and crafts provide an enjoyable pastime for any ability and can give older people a sense of purpose. You may need to use smaller groups of people at one time to allow plenty of table room and avoid cross-use of equipment. Create a tray or bag for each resident with their name on. This could be filled with a couple of paintbrushes, colouring pens or pencils, colouring sheets and a pot for water. You can purchase large bottles of ready-mixed paint to give each user their own ‘paint palette’ on a plastic or paper plate. These can then be at the ready to use and will ensure only the named person is handling the items.
Everyone loves a music singalong and this can easily be set up for groups that are seated away from each other. There are some great CD & large print songbook sets from wartime through to the 1970s and most can be photocopied or the words displayed on a screen for all to join in. Instruments may be difficult to keep clean but maybe hand out some coloured scarves to wave in time, or a plastic spoon and bowl to bang. Dried peas in a used small water bottle will shake and all these things can be easily washed afterwards. Singing is a great way to relax and calm people – including the carers.
Quizzes can provide some beneficial brain stimulation and these are simple to set up for a group. Each player can either put up their hand and call out the answer or it can involve each person writing their own answer down. Quizzes with multiple choice answers can be often easier for older people. Or why not have a game of Charades? Make sure everyone is in a circle so the actor can be easily seen. The less walking about, the better.
Bingo is another game that can be played whilst seated apart too. There are many different types of bingo from traditional to bingo that those that use sound. Allow different people to be the caller but ensure they wear disposable gloves when handling the pieces to save having to disinfect everything each time.
Another time-honoured favourite pastime is completing jigsaw puzzles. These are now available in washable plastic, ranging from 13 – 63 large easy-grip pieces that depict beautiful scenes from around the world when completed.
For any residents living with dementia, there are now some great activities that are made from plastic for easy disinfecting and will often keep them calm and occupied for a good long time. The Pipeline Puzzle or Nuts and Bolts are two such items that keep fidgety hands busy and can help keep them seated and relaxed. There are also cotton Activity Aprons with attachments to fiddle and twiddle which are worn by the user and are therefore always on hand if they like to wander around.
Why not download and print out our Free Activity Sheets to help busy carers, these are available from our website and include quizzes, word searches, colouring images and many more.
For more specialised advice on COVID-19 and suitable activities, please phone our friendly helpline on 01227 363858, email email@example.com or go to our website www.activitiestoshare.co.uk