Jan 19

What is meaningful activity and why is it so important?

Posted: 15 January 2019

Meaningful activity: what is it?

NICE define 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 is appropriate to the person's needs and preferences, which may include using outdoor spaces or making adaptations to the person's environment.”

Many organisations 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.

Meaningful activity involves everybody; from office staff to kitchen staff to the people delivering direct care. It’s about 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 could it be taken a step further?

By asking for help with general day to day tasks from those receiving care, you can really make someone feel valued and at home. Why not ask for help with:

  • light dusting
  • stripping the bed
  • setting or clearing the table
  • watering the plants
  • or simply take the time to sit and have a chat.

Does your organisation take a ‘whole-home’ or ‘whole-service’ approach to meaningful activity? What do your workers do to ensure they are adding to the lives of the people they are working with?

Why is meaningful activity so important?

First and foremost, meaningful activity is fundamental to the health and wellbeing of the individual accessing care and support. It can help to improve physical fitness, improve mood and help to combat depression and anxiety, combat loneliness, improve the quality of sleep and even reduce falls.

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

Is your service responsive to people’s needs?

Responsiveness to people’s needs is one of the five key lines of enquiry CQC assess when conducting an inspection and includes the adequate provision of activity. Some of the key questions you can ask of your organisation are:

  • How do you ensure your staff deliver person-centred care and support?
  • Does your service plan activities that address the wellbeing and social aspect of a person’s life?
  • How do you support those receiving care and support to engage with the community in which they live?
  • How are those individuals supported in ordinary daily living activities and interests personal to them?

Coming soon

We’ll soon be publishing a self-evaluation tool to help you evaluate the current activity provision in your organisation. It’ll help you to recognise good practice and where it can be evidenced, reinforcing what is right while helping to identify areas for development and signpost you to support and further resources to help.

Find out more at here.