According to the NICE Quality standard [QS50], meaningful activity includes physical, social and leisure activities that are tailored to a person’s needs and preferences. It can range from activities of daily living such as dressing, eating, and washing; to leisure activities such as reading, gardening, arts and crafts, conversation, and singing. It can be structured or spontaneous, for groups or for individuals, and may involve family, friends and carers or the wider community.
One of the hardest parts for me in a service is getting staff to understand that activities are not the sole responsibility of the activities coordinator, but instead, they should be at the heart of everything we do when delivering a truly person-centred service.
We spend a lot of time collating service users’ likes and dislikes, aspirations, hopes and dreams and see firsthand how staff suddenly become engaged when service users say they want to go clubbing or to the USA or on another foreign holiday. So how does skills mapping help us improve our activity culture?
Connecting the Dots
Matching staff interests, likes, dislikes, hobbies, and other vocational skills to the service users they support is vital to ensuring the provision of meaningful activities. By skills mapping, it becomes possible to create:
- A positive and engaging environment
- A culture that fosters personal growth
- An environment that enhances wellbeing
- A team that maximises the quality of life for service users
This approach recognises the importance of personalised support and acknowledges that each person (including staff) has unique needs and preferences. Connecting the similarities is the key to increased engagement and participation.
Allocating staff who share similar likes and hobbies with the service users they support creates a sense of connection and rapport. Building a strong relationship is essential for effective support and communication. When staff and individuals have common interests, they can engage in conversations, participate in activities together and share experiences. This in turn creates a sense of belonging and helps service users to feel understood and valued, thereby promoting their emotional wellbeing, and can open additional doors into engaging with the community around them which increases circles of friends and being part of a wider community of people who share these interests.
Staff who possess hidden skills and talents that mirror the interests and hobbies of those they support can provide more meaningful and effective support. For example, if someone enjoys music, having a staff member who is skilled in playing a musical instrument can lead to personalised music therapy sessions or opportunities to learn and explore different genres. The same can be said for staff who may sing in a choir. Having a tailored approach enhances the individual’s engagement and enjoyment, as they receive support from someone who understands their specific needs and can provide relevant guidance and encouragement.
At the same time, the staff member will become more engaged as they are doing something they enjoy rather than being allocated a task they do not like but they are on the rota and allocated to do so.
By avoiding activities or situations that staff members dislike, it helps create a positive and supportive environment. When staff members are not engaged or enthusiastic, it can negatively impact the mood and motivation of the individuals they support. Conversely, when staff members genuinely enjoy what they are doing, it is reflected in their approach, and individuals are more likely to feel motivated and inspired to participate.
Consider and Deep Dive
Each of the following key areas will help you gain an insight into the hidden resources you have at your disposal:
- Finger Spelling
- Additional Language Skills
Interest in Sport
- Observer or Player
- Do they have a religion?
- Practising or Non-Practicing
- Member of any community groups
- Mechanics, Bikes, Trains
Once you have a better understanding of your staff’s hidden skills, you can map these against your service users, reviewing activity plans and allocating more appropriate staff to support the choices of your service users.
Matching staff skills can also contribute to their personal and professional development and empowerment that when discussed in supervisions and appraisals may open new learning and development opportunities that staff never considered before. It may be that a staff member is able to facilitate some additional staff training in their area of expertise, enabling them to achieve a sense of accomplishment and value.
At the same time as ensuring you have your service users’ likes, dislikes, hobbies, skills, goals, and aspirations, you and your team can support individual autonomy and choice. Staff who have a good understanding of a service user’s preferences and capabilities can offer a range of options for meaningful activities. This empowers your service users to make informed decisions about how they spend their time and enables them to exercise choice, control, and independence. By respecting these choices, staff members can create an environment that encourages self-expression and promotes self-determination.
Try the new QCS Skills Mapping tool and discuss it in your team meetings to see how it can enhance your services provision as well as providing great evidence to CQC under the new single assessment framework.
Regulation 9 Person-centred care
Regulation 10 Dignity and respect