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Keeping engagement meaningful

Hilary Woodhead, Executive Director, NAPA

The emotional and physical wellbeing of those with care and support needs and those who care for them are NAPA’s priority. Applying social distancing in care homes has challenged us all in many ways and new approaches have been vital. NAPA is here to help care and activity teams to continue to prioritise wellbeing through the provision or activities, arts and engagement. How a person spends their time must be given as much thought as how their care needs are met. Having something to do can make people feel useful and valued. Simple things like talking, laughing, singing and just being together can help improve wellbeing and reduce loneliness. It is also important to give people space and time to acknowledge all they have lost during this difficult time.

Make wellbeing a priority

  • Use existing care and support plans to develop individual engagement plans for each resident in their care
  • Include opportunities for activities over a 24-hour period, these should not depend on the presence of a member of staff to initiate engagement
  • Keep plans in each residents’ room for easy access by all staff members (make sure these do not share sensitive information)
  • Identify a staff member to be responsible for maintaining contact between residents and their loved ones
  • Encourage and enable family contact through the means of technology
  • Support socially distant face to face visits, as soon as it is safe to do so
  • Offer support and encouragement through one-to-one interaction with residents, in accordance with the required COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Discard or sanitise activity supplies according to the care home’s Infection control policy
  • Ensure items are not shared between residents
  • Organise the necessary supplies for each residents’ room to promote engagement and activity 

Remember, wellbeing is not the sole responsibility of one person; the whole home can be fully involved in an engagement-based model of care

Follow the current guidance

Work with family and team members to provide a box of useful activity supplies/prompts, this must be kept in a resident’s room and used only by them.

Here are some suggestions: It is important that ‘the box’ reflects the interests of the resident, so ask them what they would like to have close to hand and talk to family members about items that might support engagement.

  • Contact details of friends and loved ones
  • Mobile phone or tablet
  • Decks of cards
  • Large print books
  • Spiral notebooks
  • Colouring pencils and other stationery
  • Watercolours/paints
  • Notice board to display work or messages
  • Adult-appropriate colouring
  • Craft supplies and kits
  • Word searches and crosswords
  • Wool
  • Trivia books
  • Hand-held video games
  • Magazines and newspapers
  • Small pots of flowers
  • Life like dolls
  • Robotic pets
  • Essential oils and diffusers
  • Music players and headphones
  • Song sheets

Suggestions for hallway activities or activities at a social distance

  • Any type of exercise – yoga, tai chi, noodles, scarf, stretchy band exercise
  • Joke hour – everyone takes turns telling prepared and printed jokes
  • Remote control cars or devices in and out of the rooms
  • Alexa/Dot: use for music, trivia, quiz
  • Singing between staff and residents
  • Worship via TV, radio, livestream or recorded, Prayer CDs
  • Bread machine for aroma and then snacking
  • Hallway choir
  • Doorway bingo
  • Doorway football

It is important that Covid-19 Infection control measures are put in place and adhered to.

Visit the NAPA website for free resources, browse our NEW NAPA resources catalogue, contact the NAPA Helpline on 0207 078 9375 or email helpline@napa-activities.co.uk for free support and information.

To become a NAPA member and receive a comprehensive benefits package email membership@napa-activities.co.uk – quote ‘Care Talk Offer’ for three free months on subscription for new members.

Helpful Resources


Twitter: @HilaryWoodhead





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