Nursing Home appropriate "activity" ?

katie1

Registered User
Aug 5, 2014
122
Kendal Cumbria
I went to visit Dad today, he has now been in the nursing home for two weeks and is gradually settling into the "routine"
However, there doesn't seem much to do. But today some kind of activity organiser was there......I was surprised, shocked, uncomfortable to see the "activity" she was doing with each person. She had polystyrene cups, some felt tips, a glue stick, and some stick on sparkly shapes. She was "helping" each person or telling them to glue on the sticky shapes to make a pot to put soil and seeds in to grow a sun flower. The way she spoke to people in a sing songy sort of playgroup leaders voice was very condescending and demeaning.
Is this a normal sort of activity in a Nursing Home??!!
Even when an individual said "no" they didn't want to do it, they were asked lots more times until they took part, or the women just went back to them a bit later.
If the idea was to craft some sort of pot, then surely clay work would have been more appropriate, and pressing mosaic shapes into the clay, or even sticking mosaics onto a conventional terracotta plant pot!! But a polystyrene cup a glue stick and shiny shapes??!
 

Beate

Registered User
May 21, 2014
11,839
London
OH loves arts and crafts. He happily paints or covers himself all over in glitter in an attempt to help with a project. I can't quite see what was wrong with this activity? Surely clay or terracotta pots would have been very heavy and thus a safety risk, plus more expensive. The point of these activities is not to fashion anything overly useful, but to keep people occupied. We often do something similar in the Alzheimer's Society's Coffee Club, like painting egg cups or making a photo album cover out of coloured paper and cut-out pictures.
 
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Saffie

Registered User
Mar 26, 2011
22,506
Near Southampton
Activities organisers usually have limited funds. I have to say that I can't see much wrong with using polystyrene cups. They are very cheap and if ruined, no harm is done. As long as care was taken that nobody put the bits into the mouth and the residents were happy to do the task, even if eventually. After all, the main purpose was to grow a seed. I can only imagine the mess if clay was made and it would probably be too difficult a task.
It is quite common to use these cups for planting seeds. Schools do so too.
 

lizholt

Registered User
Dec 28, 2011
2
Swansea, Wales
Hi Katie,
My Dad has been in his care home for eight weeks now, and like yours, is starting to settle at last. (For a long time he packed all his things, ready to 'go home' every day.) He has mixed dementia, which I think is a kind of mix between Alzheimers and vascular dementia. The care home is quite pleasant, and the nursing staff are wonderful, always happy and can't do enough. Dad likes them all, and is starting to tentatively make a couple of friends, although he's always been very shy.
My only complaint, although I haven't said anything yet, is the apparent lack of any meaningful activities. When we first visited the home, and chose it because it looked so friendly, and is just ten minutes away from my home, the matron said that there are daily activities, and one-to-one attention, from an 'activities manager'. It's difficult for me to tell, as I work full-time in the week, so have mostly been visiting him in the evenings and weekends. But I've seen only very rare attempts at much activity. A couple of times I've been there in the afternoon, and once a lady was just sitting in the circle of armchairs with some of the sicker residents, watching a 'music' video on the TV. Nobody was making any attempt at singing. And once I saw a pack of cards and a board game on a table, but nobody was looking at them. When I ask Dad if he has been doing any activities or anything interesting today, he says no. He does keep going on about a 'big girl in a yellow skirt' who danced down the room, so I say that sounds interesting. But he also talks about watching the Oxford and Cambridge boat race out in the bay (the home has a slight sea view), and how he is starting a ladies' choir to travel to sing in Paris!
I've taken several photograph albums in for his room, and we look at these and newspapers together, and sometimes with his new friends too (he can just about understand some of the headlines, and likes the pictures.) But otherwise, if it wasn't for me I don't think he'd have any kind of one-to-one activity or attention. I've seen residents left for hours in chairs, staring in silence. The nurses are lovely, but constantly rushed off their feet, and no time to really engage. So, in answer to your concern, I do agree that dementia patients still need to be treated as adults, with dignity. Dad is certainly more worried about his self-esteem than he ever used to be, and wants to be doing useful 'work'. So maybe sticking shiny stickers onto polystyrene cups is a bit childish, and perhaps more 'adult' materials could be used, but at least it's an activity that somebody's trying!

Alison
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
11,328
South coast
Can you ask the staff to tell you more about what the activities involve lizholt?
If they are being held in the mornings (they are in mums CH) then you may have just missed them and dad might not be able to remember.
 

daisydi

Registered User
Feb 25, 2015
255
Norfolk
Hi, my mum's care home has activities in the mornings. Whenever I go in the afternoon it is always quiet but I know they do stuff as they take photos which are on display all the time. Pictures of my mum flash up and I am amazed at what she is doing. Sometimes it might be things like painting flower pots or making cakes but my mum is involved at some level and even though some of it is really not her cup of tea, i.e. bingo the care home have to cater for everyone at all different levels of ability. In fact a lot of the activities are run by volunteers. I personally wouldn't worry too much. It's the taking part that counts and of course planting the seed that will grow into a beautiful sunflower.
 

katie1

Registered User
Aug 5, 2014
122
Kendal Cumbria
Hi, my mum's care home has activities in the mornings. Whenever I go in the afternoon it is always quiet but I know they do stuff as they take photos which are on display all the time. Pictures of my mum flash up and I am amazed at what she is doing. Sometimes it might be things like painting flower pots or making cakes but my mum is involved at some level and even though some of it is really not her cup of tea, i.e. bingo the care home have to cater for everyone at all different levels of ability. In fact a lot of the activities are run by volunteers. I personally wouldn't worry too much. It's the taking part that counts and of course planting the seed that will grow into a beautiful sunflower.
I suppose I have got to adjust to a lot, and I understand I am probably going through a sort of living grief for the Dad I used to have. However, I do think that activities are important and there are other things that could be done and things that could be left for people to engage with when the "activities lady" isn't there that needn't cost too much. One of the things that really bothered me was the way that this woman spoke to the residents, in a sing song play group babyish way! there was no need for that......she more or less did the activity 'for' them and told them to do it whether they wanted to or not. Maybe I am expecting too much? there are signs up here and there saying that being treated with dignity is important.......I don't think that being spoken to like that is being treated with dignity!
Most times we have visited, mornings afternoons early or late.....not much is going on for the folk on Dads floor. I think there should be more for people to engage with.
 

daisydi

Registered User
Feb 25, 2015
255
Norfolk
I suppose I have got to adjust to a lot, and I understand I am probably going through a sort of living grief for the Dad I used to have. However, I do think that activities are important and there are other things that could be done and things that could be left for people to engage with when the "activities lady" isn't there that needn't cost too much. One of the things that really bothered me was the way that this woman spoke to the residents, in a sing song play group babyish way! there was no need for that......she more or less did the activity 'for' them and told them to do it whether they wanted to or not. Maybe I am expecting too much? there are signs up here and there saying that being treated with dignity is important.......I don't think that being spoken to like that is being treated with dignity!
Most times we have visited, mornings afternoons early or late.....not much is going on for the folk on Dads floor. I think there should be more for people to engage with.
I think we are all on a learning curve about what to expect. When I go in the afternoons my mum seems to be the only one awake with the other residents asleep in front on the tv. My heart sinks as I think she has nothing to do and noone to talk to. It's such a sad state of affairs but then I think what would she be doing at home - wandering up and down looking for me. Wish I had all the answers... I must say that I've never heard her being spoken to like a child although she does behave like one sometimes. I was thinking of taking some playing cards and jigsaws in for her but I'm not sure if she would be engaged! It is only a small home and I take comfort from the fact that she is attached to most of the lovely staff. Good luck on this horrible journey. I have to admit that I NEVER thought it would come to this.
 

Essie

Registered User
Feb 11, 2015
563
Hi Katie,
My Dad has been in his care home for eight weeks now, and like yours, is starting to settle at last. (For a long time he packed all his things, ready to 'go home' every day.) He has mixed dementia, which I think is a kind of mix between Alzheimers and vascular dementia. The care home is quite pleasant, and the nursing staff are wonderful, always happy and can't do enough. Dad likes them all, and is starting to tentatively make a couple of friends, although he's always been very shy.
My only complaint, although I haven't said anything yet, is the apparent lack of any meaningful activities. When we first visited the home, and chose it because it looked so friendly, and is just ten minutes away from my home, the matron said that there are daily activities, and one-to-one attention, from an 'activities manager'. It's difficult for me to tell, as I work full-time in the week, so have mostly been visiting him in the evenings and weekends. But I've seen only very rare attempts at much activity. A couple of times I've been there in the afternoon, and once a lady was just sitting in the circle of armchairs with some of the sicker residents, watching a 'music' video on the TV. Nobody was making any attempt at singing. And once I saw a pack of cards and a board game on a table, but nobody was looking at them. When I ask Dad if he has been doing any activities or anything interesting today, he says no. He does keep going on about a 'big girl in a yellow skirt' who danced down the room, so I say that sounds interesting. But he also talks about watching the Oxford and Cambridge boat race out in the bay (the home has a slight sea view), and how he is starting a ladies' choir to travel to sing in Paris!
I've taken several photograph albums in for his room, and we look at these and newspapers together, and sometimes with his new friends too (he can just about understand some of the headlines, and likes the pictures.) But otherwise, if it wasn't for me I don't think he'd have any kind of one-to-one activity or attention. I've seen residents left for hours in chairs, staring in silence. The nurses are lovely, but constantly rushed off their feet, and no time to really engage. So, in answer to your concern, I do agree that dementia patients still need to be treated as adults, with dignity. Dad is certainly more worried about his self-esteem than he ever used to be, and wants to be doing useful 'work'. So maybe sticking shiny stickers onto polystyrene cups is a bit childish, and perhaps more 'adult' materials could be used, but at least it's an activity that somebody's trying!

Alison
Alison, The home should keep a record of your father's day - the home my Mum was in certainly did - every hour was recorded, sleeping, meals, toileting and activities (am and pm) were shown - if Mum hadn't gone to an activity it would be shown that she was offered the option but refused.

Katie1 I would agree that it is a big adjustment to make - with Dad's perhaps even more so than with Mum's - our image of our Dad is a strong, capable figure not someone with such far reaching needs and ever more limited ability. I do fully support the idea though that activities should be appropriate and wherever possible, meaningful - I have to say the activities coordinator at Mum's home was fantastic and it's a shame but so often it does rely on having really good people in these positions to make the difference. Do speak to the manager to establish what their policy on activities is - when was it last reviewed, what are the qualifications of the person running it - do they follow a prescribed programme recommended for dementia patients or is it just ad hoc? A good activities programme can make the world of difference. Good luck.