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Understanding previous lifestyles HELPS with planning person-centred activities.

Activity Coordinators can significantly enhance the engagement in care home activities when they learn more about previous lifestyles of care home residents.

Sometimes it's obvious. Understanding a resident's past hobbies can help tailor activities to their interests. For example, if a person enjoyed gardening, setting up a small garden or involving them in plant care can be a way of engaging them in activities which are meaningful for them.

Knowing that a person liked painting, knitting, or other crafts can lead to providing similar activities that bring joy and familiarity.

Knowing about previous occupations can help too. Former professions can offer clues about their skills and preferences. A retired teacher might enjoy helping with educational activities or storytelling sessions, while a former chef could participate in cooking classes or food-related activities.

But, it is important to know whether the person you are planning these activities with actually enjoyed their work. In the past many people were employed in certain occupations because of family tradition, they may not have been given a choice if Dad managed to swing it to get a job for them where he was already employed.

The lady quietly looking out of the window, watching the world pass by, might prefer to do that rather than set the table or dust the mantlepiece if she was employed as a house keeper since she was 14 years old (or even younger in cases of some of your older residents), while another lady with the same experience may find comfort in doing those familiar tasks.

Personality plays a part in previous lifestyle choices. Some people thrive in social settings, while others prefer one-on-one or solitary activities. Taking a look at the types of activities they enjoyed in the past can give you lots of clues. Those who were involved in lots of local groups are likely to enjoy group activities within the care home setting. Those who spent a lot of time reading or studying at the library might prefer a quiet area with fewer people involved. Whereas, those who enjoyed lots of holidays to popular resorts with lots of entertainment, rock bands or football games, may prefer something a little more lively.

Incorporating cultural traditions, festivals, and cuisine can make activities more meaningful and inclusive. Facilitating religious services or spiritual activities in line with residents’ beliefs can provide comfort and engagement. However, it is important to understand what impact these cultural and/or religious traditions had on the individual. Was this a choice or an expectation? Was this a regular part of their routine? Or did they only participate during larger festivals and special occasions?

Encouraging family visits and participation in activities can enhance engagement. Activities that include creating family photo albums or video calls can strengthen bonds. Family connections vary from family to family (and even person to person within each family).

Facilitating connections with friends or community groups they were previously involved in may be more important to others, and help to provide them with a sense of continuity and belonging.

Incorporating elements of their previous daily routines can make the transition smoother and provide a sense of normalcy. For instance, if Pat enjoyed morning walks, integrating a morning stroll into her day can be beneficial. A cooked breakfast at the weekend, a drink at the bar on a Friday night, a Monday matine, Sunday church service, monthly coffee morning, these are all activities which can be 'borrowed' from someone's previous routine and introduced into the care home activities provision.

By leveraging these insights, care home staff can work together with individuals and small groups to create personalised and meaningful activity programs that enhance the overall wellbeing and engagement of the care home community.

As you can see, LIFESTYLE covers much more than OCCUPATIONS.

Because of my most recent research, and my discovery that the acronym H.O.P.E.S. is already in use in the care sector (with different meanings), I have decided to switch from HOPES to HELPS.







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