Due to the COVID-19 Outbreak, we wanted to share some suggestions and best practices for limiting exposure to your residents.
We know that large group gatherings are unacceptable during these times of a major outbreak, this is the ideal time to switch to unit-based (or Home Area) programs. And of course, since you probably have fewer (or no) volunteers, you have to spread yourself even further!
Some homes will be limited to running small group/unit based activities, others will be limited to 1-1 programs only, and some homes may not have any recreation programming at all. Keep this in mind when reviewing these suggestions.
So here are a few suggestions that can help you do more – with less!
- Plan on running programs with small groups of 3 or 4 residents on the units – anywhere! Run them in residents’ rooms or the lounge right there (which saves time – no more portering!!).
- Schedule activities as 15 minute programs – and then run them three times in one hour. Residents will get more out of a short program than a one hour program for 12 people.
- If you have materials such as stuffed animals, simple puzzles or any other small resources, dig them out and leave some in the lounge area on each unit at the start of your day. This may encourage self-directed engagement by some residents – a bonus level of activity without you being there. Before you leave for the day, make a quick round to gather items up, and place them neatly on the unit for the start of the next day, or in rooms where residents are restricted to stay.
- Have a “bring-your-pet-to-work” day. If you have a dog or cat, try running your unit-based programs with your pet in hand, or on a leash. Since you will be working with small groups of residents, this is easier to manage than when working with a large group – and it is guaranteed to make every program that day more of a special event for your residents.
- Get corny! So you are in a resident’s room, doing a 1-1 visit, and the housekeeper comes into the room. Engage him or her. Announce out loud that you and the resident have been waiting all day for them to arrive for a first dance. Turn on the music, and make an effort to do a few vigorous steps with the housekeeper. Talk about a “WOW” moment for the resident – and the housekeeper!
- For individual residents who are restricted to their rooms, be prepared to carry out quick, 10 – 15 minute programs – followed by vigorous washing of your hands before going into the next room!
By refocusing how we look at our programming, we can start making lemonade in a time of imposed change. You have an opportunity right now to turn this time of trouble into a time to remember. And if you have ever met with resistance to the idea of providing more small group programming, rather than large gatherings, you have a golden opportunity to prove how great it can be.