Comic Relief’s Care Home Challenge 2 grant initiative was designed to support cultural change in the care home sector by improving the quality of life and wellbeing of people living and working in care homes through meaningful activities. Comic Relief made 11 grants to care home providers from across the UK, the activities were run in a total of 26 care homes.
The grants were awarded to a range of activities including music, chair-based exercises and life story work to encourage staff-resident engagement, increase physical and mental wellbeing, and promote positive workplace culture. Over half, 63%, of the grantees worked with an external activity provider and 27% hired external personnel to deliver the grant funded activities. The activity providers were mainly well established organisations with experience of delivering activities in care homes and/or to older people.
Tips for successful activities delivery
These six recommendations can help both care homes and external activity providers to plan and deliver successful activities in care homes.
1. Gain care home management buy-in for the activity
Having the support from the manager of the care home is essential for the successful delivery of projects. They are the gate keepers to resources needed for the activities, and influence staff attitudes towards the activities.
Even if head office and an individual staff member are supportive of the activity, manager involvement is crucial to provide the right support for activity providers. These include practical help, such as booking rooms, managing staff rota and giving staff time to participate; and management of communications within the home about the project.
Majority, 80%, of activity providers surveyed agreed with this, and described how management engagement and buy in was crucial to the success of the activity. Two activity providers described the challenges they encountered with delivery when management was not involved:
The project leader and the lead care home reached out like mad to the other care home managers and we did taster sessions in them. They just seemed to not engage.
2. Involve staff to increase positive wellbeing outcomes
Having staff present in activity sessions makes residents more relaxed and confident to participate. Activities work better and achieve greater impact for residents when staff are present, rather than the activity provider only delivering the activities.
Further, participation in the activities can improve staff confidence through training and skills development, and helps them to better know residents, their abilities and needs. Activities also have a positive impact on staff wellbeing, and help to create a better work environment.
Most activity providers surveyed, 80%, agreed with this finding. Their experiences both from CHC2 projects and prior work in care homes had shown them how staff engagement had impacted resident engagement.
If the staff display a lack of interest this can be transmitted to the clients, making the training lacklustre. This was not the case. The staff had never experienced this type of arts training before so were hungry to learn.
The art form was specifically designed to engage both staff and clients. It was simple yet produced stunning results which staff could witness the delight of the clients. This made the activities fulfilling for both parties.
3. Involve residents in planning activities
Participation in activities has a positive impact on the residents’ mental, social and physical wellbeing (you can read more about this in the main evaluation report, which you can download here).
Involving residents in the planning of activities increases these outcomes by giving them a choice and more ownership of the activity. Other factors that contribute to the success of activities include: activities that are personalised and flexible to residents’ needs, resident-led and available for all ability levels.
4. Establish strong collaborative working relationship between activity providers and care home
Activity providers can often be the driving force behind an activity. Care homes should be encouraged to share the delivery and management of activities with activity providers to increase learning, positive impacts and sustainability. Partnership working can be a real asset for both parties. This was described by an activity provider working with a care home provider:
We feel our partnership was very strong and we will continue to work with the organisation to provide and/or deliver training and sessions to their sites. With being two local organisations this proved to be a key component on the partnership and we hope to see this continue.
5. Create connections with the community
Activities have the potential to increase community links and family members’ participation. Developing these links takes time and effort; particularly family members can have limited time and ability to participate. Despite challenges, this type of social engagement has a beneficial impact on the quality of life for residents and staff in care homes.
6. Monitor the impact of activities to improve performance and assist with future fundraising
Care homes and activity providers that capture the impact of the activities through regular data collection are in a better position to make an informed decision about the future of resident care. Evidencing impact also assists with applying for further funding to deliver future activities.
If you are interested to read more about the evaluation of Care Home Challenge, you can download the full evaluation report, infographic with these tips and other materials from here.
If you would like to hear more about these evaluation findings or to discuss your organisation’s evaluation needs, contact us.
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