For too long activity has been seen as an add-on in care homes, despite being a minimum requirement in care home standards throughout the UK.
I’ve seen some excellent care homes that support residents to be involved in the life of the home, but many still struggle to balance the demands of daily tasks and patient-focused care.
Having worked as an occupational therapist for nearly 25 years, I believe moving into a care home means a person needs 24-hour support but that doesn’t mean they want, or have to, give up doing the activities that are important to them. Occupational therapy’s core belief is that activity is essential to our health and wellbeing and it’s this expertise that can lead a change in culture. To offer a practical resource to the sector, I worked with my colleague Julia Roberts to develop the College of Occupational Therapists’ Living well through activity in care homes toolkit.
Since the toolkit launched, we’ve been overwhelmed by the response with over 1,200 care home staff, commissioners, health and social care professionals signing up to support it. We are already seeing examples of its use – as a resource for commissioning a care village in Leeds and for training care staff in London.
The toolkit calls for activity as a shared responsibility between managers, staff, residents, family and friends. Its design has been carefully considered. Different sections for each group can be viewed online or printed off in bite-sized chunks. We asked: What can we produce that is accessible, influences culture and is flexible to meet the needs of different audiences?