Aug 18

Making activity count

Posted: 13 August 2018

Two ladies playing the pianoTracey Nicholson, Project Manager for Standards, Learning, Qualifications and Apprenticeships, tells us why "Making activity count" is her favourite project to date.

This year I’ve been given probably my favourite project to date, Making Activity Count.

We’d been asked to look at increasing the importance of activities and wellbeing within care environments. Although good care may be given, CQC are highlighting areas where there is a shortfall in ensuring that people are engaged in meaningful activities on a regular basis. Activities are sometimes ad hoc and not planned thoroughly, and generally left to one person to coordinate.

Following discussions with our expert reference group, made up of employers across the country, we started to explore how we could ensure this area of care was given more emphasis and support. I’ve spoken to many activity coordinators and had the pleasure of shadowing some at work, joining in the activities and getting an insight into the role and various approaches.

I’ve been fortunate to attend training sessions delivered by Oomph and NAPA which explored ways of engaging people who have a variety of cognitive ability in physical and mental activities, the energy and buzz in the rooms was very encouraging and motivating.

What I’ve found to date is that activity or wellbeing coordinators, are enthusiastic, motivated people who really enjoy their job. Many have qualifications in activity coordination and have had further training and link with organisations such as Daily Sparkle, Oomph and NAPA (National Activity Providers Association) for support. 

I’ve also found that there are common issues across the country. In a lot of cases activity coordinators work on their own, with occasional input from other carers. As most activity coordinators work Monday to Friday, activities may not happen at the weekend and when they are on holiday. Records of the interests of those accessing care and support aren’t always available making it difficult for carers to find out what they like to do. Indeed this is not the case everywhere, and the care people may receive may be excellent, but it must be acknowledged that sometimes the area of activities and wellbeing could benefit from support to improve its provision.

Activities and wellbeing needs to be seen as a ‘whole home’ approach. Every single member of staff needs to be aware that all interactions can be meaningful.

NICE define meaningful activity as including: “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 is appropriate to the person’s needs and preferences, which may include using outdoor spaces or making adaptations to the person’s environment.” (NICE 2013, Adapted from SCIE guide 15, Choice and Control, Living well through activity in care homes: a toolkit, College of Occupational Therapists and expert consensus)

 As a result of this project we’ll be highlighting why activity and wellbeing is so important. There are studies which have shown that even the lightest of additional physical exercise can go some way to reducing falls and joint pain. Staff being more engaged in the clients’ wellbeing can have an impact on their job satisfaction levels and generally everyone is happier. 

We’ll develop, in association with partner organisations, a checklist for employers to identify their current provision and signpost to where they can get support, resources and maybe funding to develop further.

We’ll provide good examples of how it can work through a variety of approaches, which could be having one activity coordinator who has support from the team they work with, to places where there is no activity coordinator; it’s simply the role of everybody.

We’ll be working with several care employers who have identified a need in their activity provision. We’ll be supporting them to develop their offer further and identifying improvements that can be made. These small pilots will help highlight the positive impact a change in the approach to activity provision can have. 

Watch this space.

#makingactivitycount #happyworkplace