Why meaningful activities matter in aged care

When you’re living in an aged care home, meaningful activities can bring you great benefits such as social connection, a sense of purpose and fulfilment, and improved physical wellbeing.

What are meaningful activities?

“Meaningful activities cover a range of different things and the opportunities go well beyond just coordinated group sessions,” explains Esperanza Arias Calli, Operations Manager – Business Improvement at Bupa Aged Care Australia. 

Residents at Bupa Aged Care homes take part in a wide range of activities, including:

  • Coordinated activities, which are planned and scheduled events such as choirs, concerts, art and exercise classes, care home themed days and special days, such as an ‘Italian Day’, high tea, group quizzes and games, and community events.
  • Spontaneous activities and meaningful moments, which are unstructured and spur of the moment. Examples include a casual chat with another resident, helping with tasks around the home, a garden walk, picking flowers and holding and feeding a pet.
  • Individual/self-engagement activities, where a resident chooses a task or pastime, such as listening to music, reading, writing letters or postcards, doing crosswords or puzzles, talking to family on the phone or via Skype, knitting, gardening or simply contemplating life.

The benefits of meaningful activities

“Meaningful activity may involve participating in some coordinated sessions, but it is much more than that,” says Arias Calli. “As human beings, we don’t just want to be entertained, we want to experience meaning and purpose in our lives by doing things that are familiar, interesting, useful and of our choice.”
 
“We all want to be involved in day-to-day life and contribute to what is going on around us. If we are not supported to be involved in meaningful activity, we will most likely feel excluded, isolated and unhappy. This can lead to depression, sadness, increased anxiety/distress, confusion, an increased rate of health and psychosocial deterioration, increased fear and withdrawal from social participation,” says Arias Calli.
Older people using computer and laughing

‘Person–First’ Care 

“Our aged care homes use a ‘Person-First’ approach to providing meaningful activity and moments to [help] make every interaction relevant, by focusing on and enabling the person’s abilities and by promoting independence and self-esteem.”
 
Among the most popular activities are musical concerts, which can trigger pleasant memories as well as an opportunity to socialise; special events, such as Mother’s Day and Christmas; cooking days; and bus trips, which not only provide a change of scene but also a sense of connection to the wider community and a chance to see familiar and loved places.

 “By supporting our residents to engage in meaningful activity, it helps them maintain an active body and mind with many potential benefits… [And] by providing support and the opportunity to engage in meaningful activity and occupation, we promote engagement and involvement as much as possible in all aspects of daily living, and this helps to meet psychosocial needs,” says Arias Calli. “Meaningful activities help us feel included, useful and loved.”

Bupa Aged Care

Bupa Aged Care, offers a full range of care including respite, residential and specialised dementia care.

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