Male-Orientated Activities

Robyn Taylor, one of our regular activity coordinator columnists, talks about how to offer activities that will appeal to your male residents…

Care homes tend to be dominated by women, both residents and staff, so when you’re planning activities it’s understandable that you’d have to cater for the majority. Of course, this means that aspects of your regular activities schedule create a lack of interest for the men in your care, meaning they do not interact much within the home, excluding themselves within their own environment.

It is so important for a calendar of events to meet the needs of everyone in the care setting: large groups, small groups, male and female-orientated activities, as well as one-to-ones and activities adapted to the needs of the residents, ie residential, dementia, Parkinson’s, etc. You also need to ensure that you’re providing a variety of meaningful activities from a spiritual, creative, physical, cognitive and occupational perspective, all of which should take place in various different environments. It’s a lot to consider, but it’s the core of your home’s activities provision and so a crucial part of your role.

One of the main barriers to getting male residents involved in activities is a reluctance to socialise or join in. Men can self-isolate a lot, so little tips or tricks to make them feel involved are really helpful. If a resident does not want to socialise, you can’t force them, but it is important to find out why they might be resistant to activities. Ask open questions to get a sense of how they feel and try to motivate and encourage them.

Top tips to encourage and motivate:

  • Invite families along
  • Start with one-to-ones, building up to group interaction
  • Encourage them to attend with a friend or fellow resident
  • Hold activities in their bedrooms
  • Ask another team member to invite them along
  • Print off an activities calendar so they can highlight what they are interested in
  • Encourage them to start by simply watching the activity
  • Organise an activity with them so they feel involved

It may feel like a slow process, but persistence pays off. Over time, you will start to see how far they have come and the benefits they are gaining from social interaction. Of course, the most vital thing will be creating activities that tap into their interests or specific needs. When you have a small budget it can be hard to plan a variety of different activities, but by planning in advance, contacting local businesses and the community, along with family and friends, you’ll be surprised how many people are willing to donate their time and services to make memorable experiences for the elderly.

These are some of my favourite male-orientated activity ideas to help with your planning:

  • Pool/Billiards – grab a bargain or purchase a pool table, organise tournaments and lessons, or visit a local snooker hall.
  • BBQ/Cooking – not all men are interested in baking, however cooking a full English breakfast or holding a BBQ may be of interest. Invite one resident into the kitchen to cook their own meal, or hold a BBQ and ask for tips.
  • Magic – rather than booking the average care home entertainer, book a magician or find magic tricks online, and get the men to practise and perform magic acts – you may need a glamorous assistant for this one!
  • Learn a foreign language – an activity some of the men could do together, which may also lead to reminiscence over holiday destinations.
  • Card games – organise a small group of male residents to play a game of cards – this could be a quiet game in a bedroom, in the lounge or at the dining table.
  • Reading the morning newspaper – over breakfast, get the men reading local and national papers, and the Daily Sparkle – they can complete the puzzles together over a cup of tea and discuss the news.
  • Gentleman’s pub club – have a variety of beers, ales and classic pub snacks available. Hold this in the care home at a regular time, or visit a local pub – perhaps they could enjoy a drink whilst acing the pub quiz?
  • Brewing beer – you can purchase kits online or at local garden centres, and it’s a great activity to get a group of men working together.
  • Painting – paint versions of famous paintings and items of interest, including trains, tanks and planes.
  • Astronomy – look up at the stars on a clear night, and discuss the stars and planets. Borrow a telescope, or use an app to plot the stars (Night Sky or SkyView are free and fascinating to use). You could even make it into a cheese and wine night under the stars.
  • Races – this could be on TV, watching the horses and having a little bet, or even competing in wheelchair races around the home – always great fun and gets everyone involved. Perhaps you could even contact a local school and attend their sports day?
  • Computers – if you have access to some computers, get the men to practise typing, teach them basic software including word, internet, emails, etc. Perhaps they could help put together the care home newsletter for you? Or send an email – a loved one would be thrilled to receive an email from their dad.
  • Collecting stamps and coins – making scrapbooks and discussing the changes over the years.
  • Fishing – look into licenses online and visit the local lake or river. Organise a talk on fishing, or have a ‘Show and Tell’ with all the equipment.

These are the kinds of activities you could run on a weekly or monthly basis, and build them into your schedule so that residents have something to focus on or look forward to. If you run some of them as a ‘club’ it encourages residents to form solid friendships, seeing each other each week and working towards a common goal. But remember, some of the simplest things can also be an activity. Below are some of my other favourite ideas…

  • Simple tasks – polishing shoes, letter writing
  • Topics – ships, army/navy/air force barracks, classic cars, sport
  • General interest – cigars/whisky, radio, photography, music
  • Games – chess, bridge, cards, backgammon
  • Sports – bowling, martial arts, dancing
  • Creativity – woodwork, gardening, photography

Good luck!