BINGO! We all know the game and we all love it, but let’s move beyond bingo. There are so many other ways to engage residents. If you’re looking for new, unique and exciting ways to engage residents with different activities, you’ve come to the right place.
Benjamin Surmi, Director of People and Culture of the Koelsch Communities, recently shared with us his list of unique activities and events to engage residents. Surmi, with a Bachelors degree in Communications and Sociology and a Masters in Gerontology, has observed that “residents have shown resilience and creativity” by using what’s available to them. They’ve experimented with new activities and have said “let’s do something here” instead of letting the pandemic define them.
The Koelsch Communities base their activities on four levels ranging from most restrictive to least restricted. The four different levels of restriction are apartment activities, hallway/station, small group and then large staged activity. Today we will focus on the two most restrictive levels.
Although these activities are all distanced, they are still able to promote collaboration and teamwork.
Here’s Surmi’s list of unique and different activities:
- Quilt Making. Instead of an individual quilt, Surmi says that each resident who wants to participate can color their own square that will then be put together to create a larger quilt. “You’re doing something together, even though you’re apart,” Surmi said.
- Outdoor Bird Watching Bingo. A new take on the classic game of bingo. For bird watching bingo, residents receive a board and are asked to find various types of birds as they look out their window. This not only engages residents but allows them to interact with nature although they are inside of their room.
- “Group” Poker. Each resident is given a poker hand and if they have a good poker hand, they win a prize
- Magazine Scavenger Hunt. Have some old or donated magazines lying around? Create, or have your residents help create, a magazine scavenger hunt based on each magazine. Don’t forget to include instructions for which item in the magazine should be located!
- Hold a Poetry Contest. Residents can submit a piece of poetry that is then shared with other residents and voted on.
Hallway and Station Activities
- Traveling Bar Cart. Decorate a cart and bring drinks and snacks door-to-door to residents. Anything from virgin margaritas, daiquiris or other non-alcoholic drinks. Kick it up a notch with costumes and music. It’s like “bringing sunshine to each room with the music and fun,” Surmi said
- Throw a Hallway Birthday Party. Your team is able to knock on the resident’s door whose birthday it is, six feet a part of course, to deliver gifts and a cake to cheer them on for their big day! It’s an opportunity for the resident to see and interact with other people from their doorway.
- “Soccer” in the halls. Have residents kick a ball back and forth down the hallway from their doorways.
- Exercise and Meditation Classes. Participants partake in classes from their doorway.
- Art and Hobby Show. Residents display their art or a hobby that they have on a table and other residents are able to come and view it, but not congregate. Veteran items, miniature collections and train sets are examples, but there are a plethora of other things residents may be collecting. “It creates real ownership among the elders that live together,” Surmi said.
- Blind Wine Tasting. Distribute small glasses of 5-10 wines for residents to taste and have them try and guess the type or even rank them by preference.
It’s hard to create events that everyone will enjoy, that’s why it’s important to make sure to provide a wide array of different activities to fit different needs and interests. Some residents are more social than others, while some like to keep to themselves, so in-apartment activities are a great way to still involve those residents.
“These are things that really should be happening anyway,” Surmi said referring to in-apartment activities. “There’s always going to be someone who is going to be sick, there’s always someone who doesn’t like leaving their apartment much.”
To view our list of virtual event ideas for senior living communities click here.