Keeping Engaged During Lockdown: Care Homes & At Home

Keeping Engaged During Lockdown: Care Homes & At Home

By Gillian Hesketh MA – MD Happy Days Dementia Workshop, Activities & Design

We all know good mental health is as important as eating a healthy diet and exercising our bodies according to our capabilities. That’s why, especially during lockdown, we have to ensure people living in residential or dementia care homes, and people at home who need care and companionship are encouraged to engage and continue to be as socially active as possible. 

With care and dementia homes closed to visitors and residents missing family members, the roles for care teams may have taken on different formats, adding shifts and multi-tasking to ensure residents are fully cared for. We’ve seen the wonderful work care teams are adding into their daily routines by regularly creating musical occasions for the people they care for. Some care teams have been able to help residents engage with family via social media which is ideal yet may only take up a small part of the day for a person who is living in residential care or alone at home.

Activity coordinators are busier than usual with days out cancelled, visiting entertainers, fitness instructors, hairdressers, unique visitors with hens, chicks, reptiles or pets to pat, all unavailable. For activity coordinators and life style facilitators, activities may need to be provided more often and with new options. Constantly inventing new activities can become daunting and time consuming. 

So here’s a few more ideas to help care teams continue to enrich social care during these difficult times:

Create a Library Trolley – Add picture books and musical bird books. Ask around to locate original magazines from the sixties and seventies: Woman’s Own, Classic Car, Railway Magazines, Cook Books, Gardening Books … Wheel out your trolley daily – Observe resident choices for new and meaningful conversations now and in the future.

Provide each resident with a triangular plain card or thick paper. Everyone can draw or colour – Create bunting for the corridors to cheer everyone up – Chat about celebrations.

Knitting – Put together a basket of wool, knitting needles and patterns – It’s amazing to see how many people can knit and will take you up on the offer of colourful wool. Some may just enjoy looking at the knitting patterns. Prompt stories about Make Do & Mend. 

Postcards – Ask relatives to send in postcards. Create a collection for people to enjoy.

Ideal for prompting conversations around holidays and family events. Some residents may enjoy writing postcards to send to their families – or write the postcards with their words.

Tool Boxes – At Happy Days, we know the gents like to remember their days at work or at home repairing, decorating and creating; being in their shed or garden. We’ve put together ‘Fix It’ Boxes with imitation tools, sanding blocks, switches, gadgets and everyday reminders to help prompt conversations and stimulate activity.

Encourage conversations around past interests and hobbies, sports teams, clubs joined, music choices, television programmes, books, films, celebrities, holiday destinations, family interests, friends and celebrations. Just chatting is an activity many people enjoy. Conversation Prompt Cards can often help prompt conversations and as everyone is busy caring, we have a range of chat and engagement packs available to despatch same day.

Corridor Bingo – Each resident sits at their room’s doorway so they can see other people but remain socially distanced. Bingo callers are bound to become super-fit, calling the numbers up and down the corridors. See Happy Days Picture Bingo with large display images and large wipe-clean bingo cards.

For Home Care – Create a Bag full of washable or wipe-clean nostalgic items to help engage and reminisce with the people you care for. Encourage board games, diaries, colouring, picture books, sorting, stacking, tidying drawers and cupboards. Maintain daily skills – share dusting, preparing food and repairs to boxes and everyday items. 

We understand the need to stay safe – most of Happy Days Dementia Workshop & Activity items are washable or wipe clean for infection control.

For social activities and nostalgic games, chat prompts and themed displays – shop online at