Care homes are currently unable to bring in external providers of 'meaningul engagement' (activities and entertainment) for residents. This means it will now be the responsibility of carers, who tend to lack confidence when it comes to leading group activities, and are likely feeling overstretched as it is.
But most care home staff already know how to seat their residents in front of a large TV!
There are plenty of opportunities for staff and residents to come together for round the telly for fun and learning...
1) Go on virtual tours of museums and galleries, national parks and nature reserves, street art and antient ruins, and even london's oldest eel, pie and mash shop through google arts and culture
2) Turn the telly into a giant video confering screen (using zoom or equivalent), so that the home's usual activity providers - and others ideally - can continue bringing smiles to people's faces through leading their regular activity remotely. We can stream someone leading a chair exercise, sing-a-long, or arts & crafts session, while the carer(s) in the room join in and keep an eye out!
3) Attend live music and theatre performances from the comfort of the lounge, with several venues offering their performances for free online. Here are examples of free opera and theatre, but there are dozens more you can find from a google search.
Songhaven is particularly wonderful example of dementia-inclusive concerts that are now streaming one concert each week
4) Play games on smart device connected to the TV screen for everyone to join in. There are free Word searches, colouring in, and digital jigsaw puzzles adapted to suit people living with dementia, along with hundreds of brain training exercises and quizes. And lets not forget the joy of youtube videos for reminiscence and silly fun!
Calls to action...
Let your local care home know you're thinking of them and ask to speak with the Activity Coordinator or equivalent. (Start with an email because phones will be busy these days.)
Ask if s/he has the large TV in the lounge set up with wifi etc, and if not...
! Come together as a community and donate the hardware/software they're missing for good connectivity to the outside world
! Many carehomes are like stepping back in time when it comes to technology. If you're someone that knows how to connect tvs to other devices and get them started with some of the ideas above, then please offer a step-by-step tutorial over the phone
! If you're someone that feels comfortable leading a group activity on a big screen, then please get stuck in and become a virtual activity lead! It can be as simple as a sing along, story telling, or even showing off some dance moves. Residents will love the window into the outside world where instead of passively watching a show they get to interact and laugh with you.