Aged care providers need to work with residents to provide meaningful wellness activities, two occupational therapists tell Australian Ageing Agenda ahead of their appearance at an industry conference.
Residential aged, home care and retirement living provider Wesley Mission Queensland has conducted an occupational therapy-based wellness pilot study on its 13 aged care facilities across Queensland.
The study involved developing tasks for its residents to provide more opportunities for them to engage in meaningful activities, said Ashlini Singh, an occupational therapist at Wesley Mission Queensland.
The tasks were designed to be achievable by residents of any ability, Ms Singh said.
“We designed the groups with task analysis skills, which break the task into achievable activities,” Ms Singh told AAA.
The study held 13 sessions per residential aged care community to offer a variety of activities to its residents and each ran for 45 to 60 minutes, Ms Singh said.
All residents were encouraged to participate in the activities, said Rhian Meyer, an occupational therapist at Wesley Mission Queensland and was also involved in the pilot study.
“The aim was to create a group that all participants could take part in and provide different levels of activities,” Ms Meyer told AAA.
“We customised the activities beforehand and on the day to meet the needs of residents, so they are able to participate to the fullest extent,” Ms Meyer said.
A men’s shed, art therapy, gardening, dancing, mindfulness and reminiscence groups are among the activities residents were involved in, Ms Meyer said.
In the men’s shed, the residents took part in making a bamboo planter box.
“Residents were involved in hands-on projects, which involved sanding and staining the piece of wood and screwing them together,” Ms Meyer said.
Ms Singh said there was good uptake of the activities and feedback from residents and their families has been positive.
“We have a few residents who used to be carpenters here, so they thoroughly enjoyed coming into groups (even though) they are normally usually socially isolated.
“It was interesting to see because it really got the residents out of their comfort zones,” Ms Singh said.
It also improved communication and teamwork between residents and increased their attention spans.
“Some residents who were agitated or aggressive at times were just interested when the tasks were placed in front of them and they were really well focused,” she said.
Aged care providers need to implement more meaningful activities for their residents to get involved in, Ms Meyer and Ms Singh said.
Ms Meyer said providers need to work closely with their residents when rolling out activities.
“There needs to be consent they want to participate in these activities,” Ms Meyer said.
“There is not a lot of work in this area in the industry and we need to start the discussion,” Ms Singh said.
The pilot study is a stepping stone towards developing the program in the industry, she said.
The Occupational Therapy Australia National Aged Care Symposium will take place at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre on 22-23 February.
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