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Activity Programs in Long-term Care Facilities

A good activity program in a long-term care facility goes a long way in improving the quality of life for the residents. Missouri State Regulations 19 CSR 30-85.042 paragraph 93 states, “The facility shall designate an employee to be responsible for the activity program. The designated person shall be capable of identifying activity needs of residents, designing and implementing programs to maintain or increase, or both, the resident’s capability in activities of daily living. Facilities shall provide activity programs on a regular basis. Each resident shall have a planned activity program which includes individualized activities, group activities and activities outside of the facility as appropriate to his/her needs and interests. II/III”
This regulation tell us that each resident should have individualized activities which meet their needs. Not all residents are BINGO fans, yet in many facilities this is the main activity. Facilities should have a variety of activities. Residents in long-term care facilities can be as young as 17 years old. These residents are going to have different interests than the senior population. If a facility accepts younger residents they need to have activities to meet their needs.
Activities in facilities can include Red Hat Clubs for the ladies, current events, men’s clubs, clubs for veterans, card games, all different kinds of board games, exercise, happy hour, different arts & crafts and cooking. Some facilities have different committees for residents to be on. These may include a welcoming committee to welcome new residents to the facility, or dietary committees which work with the dietary supervisor to handle food complaints and come up with menu options. Facilities may have buses or vans to take their residents out into the community to various events. Even residents who are bed bound have the right to activities. These may include one on one visits, some have pet therapy or individuals coming into their room to read or to play/listen to music.
Activities are just as important for residents with cognitive problems. Some facilities increase activities around 3 pm when some of the residents experience sun downing. This can keep those residents occupied and they may be less likely to have problems. Residents with cognitive declines can still participate in activities they just need to be tailored to their needs. The activities can be simplified and not as long as the regular activity since their attention span is often very short.
A good activity program is fundamental for a good facility. Activities give the residents something meaningful to do with their time. It gives them a sense of worth. Facilities without a good activity program may find their residents lonely, board and depressed.
Activities are what keep residents active and interacting with others. Activities improve the quality of life for residents by giving them something to do with their time and energy. Remember, activities are a choice. Some resident may choose not to participate in activities. If that is their choice the facility should honor their decision.