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Lifestyle program helps residents to lead an engaged and socially active life

27th January 2021

Moving into residential aged care is a change, but your loved one will still be the same person they've always been. That’s why we encourage residents to enjoy the same lifestyle in their new home.

Working away at a hobby (like crossword puzzles and gardening) or talking over a coffee with friends is a chance to be engaged in an activity that can increase socialisation and that benefits your emotional and physical wellbeing.

In fact, numerous studies suggest that social ties paired with fun activities may contribute to longevity.

Researchers from Brigham Young University analysed results from 148 studies and found that stronger social connections boost survivability by 50%.

So to maintain and improve the emotional and physical wellbeing of our residents, Benetas has a lifestyle program that ensures that they live a healthy, enjoyable life in our residential aged care homes.

What is the lifestyle program?

Benetas’ lifestyle program is about engaging your loved one in tailored activities of personal interest.

“It’s about letting our residents continue to keep their independence as best they can. It allows them to be who they are as a person and continue what they did before becoming a resident,” says Karen Siddle, Activities Coordinator at Dalkeith Gardens.

The lifestyle program is organised in monthly or weekly calendars, where daily social activities are planned for our residents. “There is a wide range of different activities to choose from on a daily basis that meets many different needs,” says Meryl, a resident at Dalkeith Gardens.

These activities help our residents live better and potentially longer lives in a myriad of ways. Apart from preserving their identity, increased social activity can help to:

  • Maintain cognitive function
  • Improve emotional health
  • Boost immune system
  • Help improve sleep
  • Enhance quality of life

Benetas values the needs of each resident so we make sure that the activities we add to the program are ones that our residents want.

We conduct meetings with them and ask if there is anything new they’d like to do or anywhere they want to go. We also have community groups and volunteers who suggest ideas for new activities.

To further improve the program, we assess through volunteer and resident feedback if the activities are working well, if they need to be tweaked in some way, or if they have to be changed altogether.

How is the lifestyle program managed?

As the activities coordinator at Dalkeith Gardens, Karen needs to balance two aspects of her job: management and spending time with the residents.

Karen needs to be on top of all the paperwork, which includes checking and responding to all emails, reviewing the resident assessments to determine if there are any changes in their lifestyle needs, and organising the monthly calendar of activities and events (which, for Dalkeith Gardens, consists of 20-30 activities per month).

Apart from all the planning and preparation, she dedicates time to interacting with the residents (e.g. having a chat with them at the cafe or doing a word puzzle).

While managing such a hectic and intricate program is not an easy task, Karen says that she finds it fulfilling to see the residents happy and healthy thanks to the social activities they engage in.

“The girls are unbelievable! People don’t realise how much they do to make our lives better and care for our wellbeing,” says Dalkeith Gardens resident Jen, speaking of Karen and her assistant, Tina.

What activities do residents at Dalkeith Gardens have access to?

Benetas’ lifestyle program offers a variety of activities to keep our residents physically, mentally, and socially healthy.

We have several popular scheduled programs, such as:

  • Bingo

Bingo is more than just a fun game. Apart from promoting socialisation, it improves listening and short term memory skills, making it an excellent concentration exercise for the elderly. Our lifestyle program allows our residents to enjoy the game together at least twice a week.

  • Cafe

Spending time at a cosy cafe with friends is a common activity for teens and adults, and seniors are no exception. Through our Cafe Wednesdays and Fridays, our residents can enjoy having a chat or playing board games over coffee or tea.

  • Church services

Our program also offers church services in three different churches, so that our religious residents can continue to practice their faith.

  • Happy hour

Every Friday, our residents are invited to socialise and have a glass of wine together in an onsite bar. And we often book volunteer musicians to entertain residents with songs they know and love.

Our program also includes special events such as petting zoos, where residents can interact with farm animals (we’ve even had a lady milk a cow previously which reminded her of her younger years on the family farm), movie nights where they can watch new films or old favourites in the cinema, and day trips where they can enjoy time outside the facilities (e.g. trips to shopping centres).

The impact of COVID

While the Lifestyle programs at Benetas saw some challenges in 2020, our lifestyle teams across the organisation stepped up and cared for and engaged our residents during a time when visitors were not allowed in the homes and spirits needed raising.

As restrictions continue to lift, visitors are now allowed back (albeit with strict guidelines) and our activities are nearly back to where they once were.

Despite the impact, Karen remains optimistic that things will get better and the lifestyle program will soon be up and running just like before.

Benetas ensures your loved one has access to fun, engaging, and stimulating activities through our lifestyle program, so that their time as a resident is well spent.

Not only does being active with your peers make life more enjoyable, it’s also proven to positively affect both physical and mental health.

So if you want your loved one to live an exciting, happy, and healthy senior life, contact our Customer Centre to book a tour at one of our residential aged care homes.