Wellness activities key to resident engagement

Aged care providers need to work with their residents to provide meaningful wellness activities, two occupational therapists tell Australian Ageing Agenda ahead of their appearance at an industry conference.

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.

Rhian Meyer and Ashlini Singh

“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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2 thoughts on “Wellness activities key to resident engagement

  1. As someone working in this area for the past 7 years creating lifestyle programs, implementing them, evaluating them and adapting to residents (changing) needs, interests and abilities , I am frankly surprised to read that there is not much work done like that in the industry. There is – by leisure and lifestyle staff across the country in countless hours and with great effort. It is check by the quality agency and part of the standards . Described activities encompass cognitive, social, emotional and spiritual need. We are adding fun and joy to the residents on a daily basis , assess, reassess our work constantly . So residents with a variety of needs can enjoy living to their last breath. I appreciate to validate the effectiveness of lifestyle work scientically. There’s hope my professions input into wellbeing is also considered in the royal commission . We are so much more than bingo

  2. Agree with Anja Danner. When oh when will the industry recognise the work of countless Lifestyle / Diversional Therapist in the industry. Our Education is a minimum of 12 months. This goes to show the industry is bereft of knowledge of what we do. Lets get this straight – we don’t “play games and certainly not babysitters” yes we have been described as such even by senior managers. The Lifestyle division provides therapeutic support in the guise of a structured activity program to meet the various Standards that are set out via Quality Agency that warrants us to meet.
    We write individual Plans and Assessments on the needs of our residents. Not only is it to enjoy life, but work with the ever changing needs from both a physical and clinical sense. Our involvement is in the holistic wellbeing of the resident.
    YET – we are grossly underpaid for what is expected from the group. Grossly undermanned – seriously I do know of Organisations that have 1 person to over 100 people.
    Talk is about ratio’s of PCA’s – and I have enormous respect for the back breaking job they do – but we also need a Ratio apportioned to the Lifestyle Division.

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