Working in a care home as an Activity Coordinator or Wellbeing Manager can be a lonely job, if other staff members are not supportive of your efforts.
The best way to gain more support from other staff members is to engage with them, involve them in your planning and they will be more interested and more responsive.
When you reach this point, they are often much more willing to ensure that residents are supported to attend your group sessions.
Staff members are also more likely to slow down when taking wheelchair users to different areas of the home, enabling them to look at themed displays and photographs, etc. So that, when your residents arrive for activities they are already anticipating what the activity might be about, and be ready for more conversation.
One topic which is sure to get your staff members buzzing is 'holidays'. Whether abroad or in the UK, holidays are a top scoring subject for conversation starters.
Encouraging staff to engage residents in conversations about their holidays can create meaningful interactions and foster a sense of connection. Here's how you can encourage these conversations through holiday themed care home activities:
Personal Engagement: Ask your colleagues about their recent holidays and any planned holidays. If they have been somewhere recently they will be willing to spend a few minutes chatting about it. Suggest that they tell "Gill" about it as they go in to provide personal care/ accompany "Gill" to the dining room.
Create Conversation Prompts: Develop a list of open-ended questions that staff can use to initiate conversations about holidays. For example, "Tell me about your favourite holiday memory," or "What was the most memorable trip you've taken?" and put a copy up in the staff room (or other shared area). You could also leave a few prompts around in the dining room, lounge, etc.
Themed Activities: Plan themed activities or events that revolve around holidays, where residents and staff can share stories, traditions, and experiences related to different holidays. Ask staff for tips and ideas of what to include "what's the traditional dish/drink/dance/music in Spain?", for instance.
Display Visual Prompts: When planning to set up displays or decorations related to specific holidays in common areas, ask staff members if they have any suitable photographs to share, sparking conversations and reminiscing. Ask members of staff, family members and friends to send a postcard to the care home when they are away.
Memory Journals: Provide a holiday-themed memory journal where everyone can jot down their favorite holiday memories. Encourage staff and residents to take part. Follow up this activity by using the entries as conversation starters.
Group Discussions: Organize group discussions or roundtable sessions where residents and staff can share stories and experiences from their holiday travels. Don't forget to provide refreshments.
Photo Sharing: Try sharing photos which get people guessing. Ask staff members to bring in copies of photos for you to use for "Guess the Destination?" and "Guess Who?" games.
Holiday Workshops: Arrange workshops where staff can help residents create holiday-themed crafts or decorations, leading to discussions about past holiday experiences.
Themed Dining: Coordinate with the kitchen staff to have special holiday-themed meals, sparking conversations about traditional holiday foods and customs.
Involve Family Members: Encourage family members to share holiday stories or photos, and involve them in conversations with residents and staff during visits. When staff get to know family members and friends, this helps to forge a more social relationship with residents too.
Storytelling Sessions: Organise storytelling sessions where residents and staff can share their holiday stories, creating a warm and engaging atmosphere. This could be set up as a presentation by a member of staff or residents, where everyone can learn about different holiday destinations.
Appreciation Days: Host appreciation days for different holidays, where residents and staff come together to discuss the significance and memories associated with those holidays.
Holidays in the UK: Have a specific activity for discussing and appreciating different holiday destinations in the UK. Get everyone involved in the conversations.
Travel Tales: Host a group discussion about ways of travelling and journeys taken for holidays. Coach travel, trains, camper vans, aeroplanes....
Accommodation: Organise a session for talking about the different types of accommodation, here you will discover the keen campers, B&B fans and those who preferred a bit of luxury.
Shells & Pebbles: Having something tactile to pass around, even if it's one pebble, can help participants to engage in the conversation, it can provoke memories and feelings of being on a beach for the day, or on holiday by the sea. A collection of shells and pebbles can be arranged for a craft session. This can be done as a group or individuals could have smaller shells and arrange on coloured A4 paper. Take photographs and share these later for more discussions - art appreciation, perhaps. Add to this idea by asking staff members to create shell or pebble art pictures on the beach and send a photo.
By facilitating conversations about holidays, you create opportunities for residents to share their rich life experiences, strengthen connections with staff, and create a more vibrant and engaging care home environment.