Benefits of personalised leisure planning for the elderly

There is a mounting body of evidence that links deliberate pursuits of leisure to positive health outcomes. This area of research is of particular interest to the discipline of Occupational Therapy and relevant to many sectors, particularly Aged Care.

At Aquamarine Personalised Home Care we offer personalised leisure planning because it has the following benefits to clients:

  • Distraction or alleviation from pain, illness, loneliness and grief around changed ability
  • Provides structured down time for carers or families
  • Contributes to maintaining personal identity often lost through illness or ageing processes
  • Provides pleasant alternatives to unpleasant or invasive aspects of care
  • Allows the client to experience pleasant parts of their past despite changed ability to participating.

First-hand examples of personalised leisure in Home Care:  

Stan goes to Church:

Stan is a 91-year-old gentleman living at home with his wife and adult daughter. Stan is quite frail physically and has advanced dementia. The home and family were already well covered with Personal Care and Domestic Assistance by a national not for profit provider, when their Aged Care Package allowed an additional four hours per week. The provider allocated these hours to “social support” and allocated a regular carer.

Upon first meeting with the family, it was evident they were hoping the carer “had some ideas” as they were at a loss around how to entertain Stan, who seemed to have lost interest and ability in a lot of his normal activities. As part of discussing Stans past, and the families needs, it was revealed Stan had been a regular Church attendee and “in an ideal world” there would be a way to allow Stan to return to regular Church, however, the family were overwhelmed with how to do this around issues such as incontinence, fatigue and mobility issues.

A plan was developed to take Stan to Church for Wednesday service and morning tea after his personal care session. This immediately gave Stan a focus for the day, and respite for the family. Initially the process fatigued Stan and he was not able to sustain the whole morning, however, over months the process actually improved Stan’s endurance and he tolerated the four-hour process well. His engagement with others and participation in the service increased over time, as did his cooperation and confusion during personal care.  His quality of sleep was better on the days he attended Church, and eventually, his anti depressant medication was reduced.

Barrie goes to Bunnings:

Barrie was an 80-year-old gentleman with advanced Alzheimer’s Disease, who lived at home with his wife Lyndell in Ballina. They did not receive government packaged home care. There was a great need for Lyndell to have some time away from the home and responsibilities of care, however, Barrie was unable to be left at home alone.

The family advertised locally for some private support, and met Nigel, who worked in Disability Home Care, however also shared a lot of Barrie’s interests around timber and birdlife. Nigel had a discussion with Lyndell around Barrie’s interests and how his illness has changed his ability or motivation to engage with leisure. Barrie was quite unwell, had very low communication ability and Lyndell was concerned he was not able to be entertained or distracted.

Nigel planned a trip to Bunnings to stroll around the timber section. Barrie responded quite positively and appeared to be appreciating the timber, touching it and in his own incoherent way, engaging his carer in conversation about the timber. When Barrie’s interest and attention declined, Nigel took Barrie (via the sausage sizzle) to the river to eat sausages and watch seabirds.  Considering Barrie tolerated this outing so well, and due to his limited memory, Nigel decided to simply repeat the same experience weekly.

Lyndell noticed a considerable difference in Barrie’s nocturnal sundowners symptoms on the days he “had been to Bunnings with Nigel”, he was more cooperative, less aggressive and less agitated. After Barrie’s transfer to care, Nigel became a regular visitor to Barrie and continued the tradition by taking pieces of timber and images of birds. Care staff also noted a drop in Barrie’s disruptive behaviour the days he had been engaged with things of meaning to him.


To learn more about leisure activities and outings call Gemma at Aquamarine Personalised Home Care on 0422 867 111