Stimulating and Fun activities for care home residents and day centre users are essential for Living Well, to help maintain a good quality of life and retain a connection to topics of shared interest. If you visit a care home at any time of the year there will be activities taking place which involve quizzes, games, music, being creative with arts and crafts and some physical activities too.
To enhance these activities further a care home can deepen the involvement of residents, widen the range of activities offered and develop a community network connected to people with similar interests or shared pastimes around the world. All that is needed are a connection to the Internet, a basic Tablet computer and activities coordinators familiar with this basic technology.
Activities that took place 'off line' are now possible 'on line', no longer limited by the four walls of the building, but connected to the web, to new friends and a wider community on the Internet. Some websites can be used in activities sessions just as they are, but others may need a little more preparation to create an interactive session.
Remember it is important that those you are working with are comfortable with technology, so a person-centred approach, introducing new ideas gradually and talking first about the subject before looking at it on the computer should be followed. Try not to focus on "the computer", but on the fun you can have with it. Maybe let some residents try things out for themselves rather than the computer being something scary and out of reach or restricted to use by "the experts". Natural curiosity can be a wonderful thing as people discover how the iPad or computer can be a new window on their world.
As part of our Connecting Care visits we have recently been working with a group of volunteers from Voluntary Action Oldham to show them the benefits of tablet computers for older people in residential care. This feedback from the volunteers after visiting one old lady and showing her how to use a tablet really sums it up for us.
"I just wanted to share the outcomes of our first Digital Technology session in a care home. We worked with 4 residents and used the pottery app, the making memories app and played YouTube jukebox. The residents really enjoyed the activities. One resident who has difficulty talking and dementia was able to tell us about an experience she had when her mother asked her not to join the army but her father said she could so she went. She has never previously been able to tell us anything about her life but she kept repeating the story which was fantastic. It was overall really successful and the volunteers felt it was really useful using the technology as a conversation tool. I felt it was one of the most enjoyable sessions we have delivered so far."
Go on. Give it a try today!
Here are some suggestions that you could try in sessions or for residents to have a go at :
Some of these are suited best as one-to-one activities, others work well as a group session
NIACE have recently produced a resource titled 'A Guide for Activity Co-ordinators and Care Staff' which can be freely downloaded from their website and sets out the role of informal learning for older people in a care setting. It has links to case studies and good examples of care organisations and care homes where touch screen technology is being used well for the benefit of residents. Versions of this guide aimed at care home managers and local authorities can be found here.
Although not directly about new technology, The Daily Sparkle is a service which provides a printed daily or weekly customised newspaper for residents of a care home. These can be used as a way to introduce other computer based activities.
There are many examples where external organisations work with Activities Co-ordinators in a care home to offer technology based activities and entertainment. We've listed some of these here to give you an idea of what could be possible in your setting.
Resources from the National Activities Providers Association
Age UK Guide to Digital Inclusion and use of technology in a care home
Produced as one of the resources from the Keogh Urgent Care review, NHS England have written a short downloadable guide to 'Technology in Care Homes'.
Connecting Care issues a monthly e-bulletin rounding up the latest technology and social care stories for providers of adult and social care. It's free for anyone interested in technology and adult social care.