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Enhancing Care: The HOPES Approach for Activity Coordinators in Care Homes

Updated: 4 days ago

I want to introduce you to the HOPES approach to care home activities.

This is a simple acronym to help you keep in mind what is important for each resident.

As an experienced activity coordinator, I know that designing and implementing meaningful activities can be challenging, especially when catering to a diverse group of residents with varying needs and abilities.

You may recall that I wrote a blog previously about knowing your FACTs, here I outlined how to get the information you need to help you plan purposeful, meaningful and fun activities with your residents.

This lead to the question "What do I actually need to know?"

I wanted the answer to this question to be easy to remember. I've been working out an effective framework for activity planning and resident interaction and have called it "HOPES" - Histories, Occupations, Preferences, Experiences, and Strengths.

The HOPES approach is an holistic framework that empowers activity coordinators to create enriching experiences for residents while fostering a culture of person-centered care.

H = Histories

This covers two important areas;

Family history

Who were their parents? Do/did they have siblings? Were they close to other family members?

Who are/do they consider their family members now?

Social history

Where did they grow-up? Where did they live as an adult? Where did they go to school?

Shared histories can enhance a sense of belonging and help foster new relationships.

O - Occupations

Occupations refer to the meaningful roles and activities that individuals engage in throughout their lives. These can range from professional roles to hobbies, household chores, or community involvement. Identifying the occupations that residents once held dear provides a blueprint for crafting purposeful activities that tap into their skills, passions, and sense of identity.

Whether it's organising a gardening club for a resident with a green thumb or facilitating a reminiscence session centered around past careers, incorporating familiar occupations can evoke a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

P = Preferences


Put simply this covers a wide range of things, such as, foods, drinks, colours, etc.


It's just as important to know what they dislike. You can't assume someone wasn't thirsty if they were only offered a drink of something they don't like.

In addition, understanding residents' preferences is essential for tailoring activities to their individual likes and dislikes. This encompasses preferences related to social interaction, leisure activities, food, music, and more. By actively asking for feedback and observing residents' reactions to different stimuli, activity coordinators can plan a diverse range of experiences that cater to varying tastes and preferences.

Whether it's arranging themed movie nights, cooking classes, or pet therapy sessions, aligning activities with residents' preferences increases engagement and enjoyment.

E = Experiences

Again, this can cover a wide range of topics. Communication really matters. Providing a wide range of topics for conversation and themed activities will help to uncover more information each time. Prepare to be surprised by the antics your residents have experienced. Every resident has a unique life story, rich with experiences, memories, and accomplishments. By delving into their life stories, you will gain valuable insights into their past interests, professions, hobbies, and significant life events. Understanding these life stories will not only help you to tailor activities to resonate with residents but also cultivate a sense of familiarity and connection, fostering trust and rapport between residents and caregivers.

S = Strengths

What strengths does each resident have? There will be more than one for each person.

Each resident possesses inherent strengths and abilities, regardless of age or health status. Identifying and leveraging these strengths empowers residents to participate actively in activities and maintain a sense of autonomy and competence. Whether it's encouraging residents to share their wisdom through storytelling sessions, facilitating gentle exercises to maintain mobility, or fostering intergenerational connections through mentoring programs, recognising and nurturing residents' strengths fosters a sense of purpose and accomplishment.

My HOPES approach serves as a guiding framework for activity coordinators in care homes, emphasising the importance of meaningful, person-centered care. By honouring residents' histories, occupations, preferences, experiences, and strengths, activity coordinators can create meaningful and fulfilling experiences that enhance residents' quality of life and promote overall wellbeing. Embracing this holistic approach fosters a culture of empathy, connection, and dignity, ultimately enriching the lives of residents and caregivers alike.


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