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The Importance of Social Activities and Interaction Within Care Homes

In researching the benefits of residential care homes, it becomes very clear that an essential requirement is the provision of a ?community lifestyle? for residents. Importance therefore must be placed upon the provision of activities that foster and create social interactions and experiences for residents and also cater for each and every impairment and disability.

A Nurturing Environment

With recent studies showing that many residents newly admitted to care homes may experience shyness and loneliness when they find themselves suddenly in a strange environment, it is of vital importance for care home staff to have activities in place to create and maintain a nurturing environment. Activities highlighted as having a positive effect on the welfare of residents include board games, communal cafe areas, cooking classes and gardening.

Activities such as these can help to keep residents active, while at the same time combating loneliness by making them feel appreciated, involved and part of a ?team?. Additionally, care homes that actively promote and enable their residents? continued involvement in tailored activities routinely report a reduction in overall dependency and depression, as well as fewer instances of falls. Ultimately, there are volumes of studies to support the notion that participation in activities provides many psychological and physical benefits to residents and that inclusion is vital for overall health and wellbeing within a residential care homes.

There are several positive influences that can encourage care-home residents to participate in set activities and these should be taken into account when planning a timetable. These include: the environment within the care home itself; whether the activity is within the resident?s capabilities; being offered a choice of activities; some opportunity to offer a contribution to the wider local community as a whole.

With current government policy focussing primarily on inclusion, providing residents with a reasonable level of choice when it comes to activities is and will continue to be an important part of running a residential care home. Opportunities and choices to take part in fulfilling activities regardless of gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and religious cultural or other needs are essential.

Benefits for Residents and Staff

In care homes where a successful culture of inclusion has been adopted and maintained, to the great benefit of residents, it is possible to discern staff demonstrating an enthusiastic, imaginative approach that is both individualised and resident-centred. The most successful programmes are typically those that are instigated and widely recognised as central to a daily care routine. If this can be undertaken, residents will benefit not only from the increased physical activity, but also the mental stimulation and the sense of community which often develops as a result. Care-home residents who have a routine in place can feel that there is something worthwhile to make an effort to attend each day.

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