The importance of meaningful activity

Tracey Barnes, Project Manager,Skills for Care

Tracey Barnes, Project Manager at Skills for Care talks about how meaningful activity in social care is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of people who need care and support. It can improve physical fitness and combat depression, anxiety and loneliness, whilst improving the quality of sleep and even reduce falls.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)Posted: 15 January 2019

defines meaningful activity as including any: “… physical, social and leisure activities that are tailored to the person’s needs and preferences. Activity can range from activities of daily living such as dressing, eating and washing, to leisure activities such as reading, gardening, arts and crafts, conversation and singing. It can be structured or spontaneous, for groups or for individuals, and may involve family, friends and carers, or the wider community. Activity may provide emotional, creative, intellectual and spiritual stimulation. It should take place in an environment that’s appropriate to the person’s needs and preferences, which may include using outdoor spaces or making adaptations to the person’s environment.”

Many care services have dedicated activity coordinators or lifestyle coordinators who plan and deliver a varied and regular timetable of activities that engage the individuals receiving care. These activities play an important role in the wellbeing of those individuals. But wellbeing is not just about activities, it’s about everyday meaningful interaction or engagement.

Amy Rushworth, activities and wellbeing coordinator at Northbourne, part of the Anchor Hanover Group told us: “Getting involved in activities brings lots of benefits, and it’s always great to see the difference they make to people – this is one of my favourite parts of the job. They bring fun and enjoyment to the care home and have a real impact on people’s health and wellbeing.”

Meaningful activity is about the doing ‘with’ and not doing ‘for’. Many care staff already take this approach when they’re supporting people with dressing, personal care, eating and drinking as they’re encouraging people to be as involved and self-sufficient as possible, but in order to take this further a ‘whole-service’ approach needs to be taken.

From office staff to kitchen staff to the people delivering direct care, everyone can initiate meaningful interaction. For example, asking for help with everyday tasks such as light dusting, setting the table or watering the plants can really make someone feel valued and at home.

As well as being important to those who need care and support, meaningful activity is also important to staff. It can help to promote greater staff engagement, improve job satisfaction and staff morale, which can help to improve staff retention rates.

The CQC is identifying that some organisations are not providing adequate provision regarding wellbeing and activities. Whilst basic care needs are being met and people are well cared for physically, sometimes there’s a lack of recognition of what meaningful activity is and some workers don’t consider that activities are necessarily part of their role.

When thinking about the activity provision in your organisation, here are five key questions to consider.

  1. How do you make sure there’s the right mix of skills, competencies, qualifications, experience and knowledge, to meet people’s individual needs?
  2. How do you work together collaboratively to ensure activity provision truly supports the individual’s emotional and physical wellbeing?
  3. How can you use meaningful activity to show kindness, compassion and emotional support?
  4. How do you understand what’s important to an individual to ensure physical, emotional and social needs are met?
  5. Does your workplace culture help you to be innovative in creating meaningful activity for the individuals who need care and support?

Find out more

Keep up-to-date with Skills for Care’s latest work around meaningful activity at www.skillsforcare.org.uk/activity




Email Newsletter