Group activities in care homes are a fantastic way for people with dementia to socialise with each other, giving them an opportunity to talk, reminisce and share experiences, which will have a huge impact on their emotional wellbeing.
Here are some ideas:
1. Sing Along
Create a playlist of your care home residents’ favourite songs and encourage them to sing along to the music. You can print off large lyric sheets to help the singing.
Why not try our dementia-friendly Relish Radio as a way for residents to play their favourite music?
There's an added benefit when care home activity ideas also involve the outdoors. It's a great way to get fresh air while stimulating the senses.
Gardening doesn't need physical strength. So, you can do basic tasks such as raking and watering while easily tending to flowers or herbs.
Encourage care home residents to get involved in gardening, helping each other plant seeds and taking pride in watching their garden flourish as the year progresses.
If getting out and about in the garden is too tricky for some residents, bring the outdoors inside with this vibrant Aquapaints kit.
Gentle walking groups, around a garden or local park, encourages light exercise and gives people with dementia at the care home an opportunity to spend time together. Try playing a game of “what can you see?” to spark conversation.
4. Lawn Skittles or Golf Target
Set up garden skittles, dividing care home residents into 2 teams and encouraging gentle competition. Make sure to celebrate every player to promote confidence and encourage engagement. If you don’t have lawn skittles, why not try our similar game, Golf Target? It can be enjoyed indoors or outdoors.
5. Tea Dance
Organise a tea dance for the care home residents to enjoy dancing with each other to their favourite songs. Encourage residents with mobility issues to bop along from their seats.
6. Art & Crafting Session
Depending on the weather, the art session can be enjoyed inside or outside. Care home residents and dementia patients can either let their imagination lead their creativity or paint a still-life of their surroundings.
Other crafting ideas include:
- Making jewellery
Crafting activities allow one's artistic spirit to shine, and one may gain a sense of pride.
Arts and crafts can be a fantastic way for residents to engage with younger family members who come to visit, too. Explore our creative activities here.
Bingo is a great activity to run for a large group. There are specialised, dementia-friendly bingo games, such as Musical Bingo, which encourages cognitive function and social participation by getting participants to match familiar sounds to images of instruments.
8. Book Club
Start a book club with your care home residents. In a quiet room, read a book to the group, allowing people to discuss the story with each other and share their opinions. Some may just enjoy listening in and feeling part of a social group. Welcome suggestions from residents about which book to read next.
Doing a jigsaw in a group is a fun way to interact, spending time helping each other to assemble the pieces. Dementia-friendly puzzles have been specifically designed for all abilities, and the images chosen help spark reminiscence and conversation. Take, for example, this Puppy Playtime Puzzle, which is ideal for those in the mid-late stages of dementia.
Cooking and baking classes are easy care home activities that engage the senses. They smell the delicious food, touch and sort the ingredients, and taste their finished product pridefully.
In small groups, encourage care home residents to make a cake together. Each person can take on a task, e.g. cracking the eggs, mixing the batter, or preparing the fruit decoration. Once the cake has been cooked, everyone can enjoy the end result with a cup of tea.
11. Sensory Session
Introduce a series of smells to the care home residents, asking them to discuss what each scent makes them think about. This activity will help encourage reminiscence and discussion within the group and among people with dementia. To help, you may want to use specialised sensory games, such as our Home Sweet Home scents and sounds.
Group meditation is a fantastic care home activity to help residents unwind and relax. In a quiet, dimly-lit room, play some gentle music and read a guided meditation (these can be found online) or play a YouTube meditation for the residents to follow.
13. Photo Sharing
In a group, ask each care home resident to bring a picture of a loved one or a memorable event in their life. In turn, each person shows the picture to the group and discusses their loved one/special event.
14. Film Night
Gather care home residents in a room and play a much-loved film for everyone to enjoy. Make it a special occasion by providing delicious snacks and drinks.
Think outside the box and showcase live concerts, musicals, ballets and operas, as well as films, to keep it fresh and appealing for all residents.
15. Washing Up
Ask a group of care home residents to help with the washing up, allowing them to take turns to wash, dry and put away the items. People will enjoy feeling useful and feel pride once the task is complete.
16. Discussion Group
Take the daily newspaper and pick out an article, read this to the care home residents and then they can discuss this and maybe have a debate about it, if they wish.
If you need more support with getting the conversation flowing, why not check out our Hobbies Conversation Card Game? The conversation prompts are great at sparking thoughts and memories. It’s a fun activity for visiting families and friends to enjoy with their loved ones, too.
17. Knitting Circle
Quilt making, crocheting, and knitting are great sensory group activities for residents in care homes to enjoy. Working with your hands is both mental and physical therapy. Also, it's an excellent opportunity to mingle socially with people of similar interests.
To help make the experience more meaningful, see if you can participate in helping a local charity that needs blankets for babies or those in need.
18. Spa Day
Invite a local salon to put on a spa day for residents. Getting hair washed, nails painted or experiencing a massage can make people feel pampered and appreciated. Letting people smell essential oils and playing relaxing music will help create a soothing ambience.
19. Encourage Game Play
Playing board games or cards can be a wonderful way to have fun and unwind. Card games like bridge are simple and fun to play. Scrabble and dominoes are also suitable for cognition and hand-eye coordination. At the same time, classic board games like Snakes and Ladders and Ludo are bound to bring out the competitive streak in residents.
Check out our dementia-friendly games range here.
Looking for more care home activity ideas? Relish can help!
At Relish, we’ve developed a wealth of products and activities designed specifically for seniors living with dementia in care homes. Backed by research, our products aim to promote wellbeing and spark joy for people with dementia. Browse our range of dementia-friendly care home products and activities today.