OT treatment ideas for SNF, especially if you are a new grad OT in SNF settings, are always welcome in an occupational therapy practitioner’s toolbox.
Time to “up” the challenge with a facility scavenger hunt. Remember though, you’re an OT which means that this can’t be any scavenger hunt that even a high school student could pull off. You need to tie in your skill set and your patient’s functional goals.
But how do you use these as occupational therapy treatment ideas for geriatrics?
Here’s a list of 6 ways you can do a scavenger hunt with your patient, just to give you a starting point and to get those ideas flowing. You can use this to address a variety of body functions and patient education, but you can also use it for occupational therapy group ideas SNF, as well as in room treatment ideas.
Use just about any gym item in size and color (i.e. bean bags, cones, rings, die, dominoes, etc.) or even items that mean something personally to the patient (i.e. family pictures) and your setting will also need to be taken into consideration depending on space, supplies, etc. OT Accelerator Members can print off graphics to use on their own scavenger hunt here.
Occupational Therapy Interventions Using a Scavenger Hunt
1. Cognitive Training
Set up your scavenger course to work on a wide array of cognitive functions:
- Short and long-term memory:
- hide the items with the patient beforehand, conduct another activity for a few minutes (or more), and then go on the scavenger hunt to see if the patient can remember where he/she planted the items.
- Planning and organization:
- Have the patient plan and organize a scavenger hunt for a group therapy activity.
- Time management:
- Set up flexible time limits for the scavenger hunt to be completed.
- Safety awareness and judgment:
- Track and log cues that the patient may or may not require regarding their ability to complete the scavenger hunt safely (i.e. maintaining weight-bearing precautions, using proper body mechanics, locking and unlocking wheelchair or walker brakes, etc.).
- Trail-making and following directions:
- Provide a map and/or a set of directions to guide the patient through the scavenger hunt and to see whether or not the patient can adhere to the directions.
2. Motor Coordination Training
Focus on the intentional movements required in the scavenger hunt and set up items accordingly: reaching, grasping, tremor or ballistic movement control, bilateral integration of the hands and arms, crossing midline, and so on.
3. Visual and Perceptual Training
Do you have a patient with neglect? Macular degeneration? Glaucoma? Use a scavenger hunt to work on compensatory or even restorative strategies for vision and/or perception. Purposefully hide items within and outside of your patient’s visual field and provide cues where necessary.
If you have a patient who is new to the wheelchair scene (powered, powered assist, or manual) and you prefer not to run them through a couple boring laps around the facility, spice it up with a scavenger hunt. Strategically hide a few items that he/she can reasonably reach from their chair, but provide enough variety in order to work on several necessary maneuvers:
- forward propulsion
- hugging tight corners
- narrow spaces
- turning in place, etc.
5. Activity Tolerance Training
Maybe the reason your patient is a patient is because their health took an unexpected turn causing weakness, increased fatigue, breathing problems, or even heart problems. OT treatment ideas for SNF can work on your patient getting back up to where their endurance used to be by carrying out a scavenger hunt appropriate for their level.
Downgrade and Upgrade By:
- Decreasing/increasing the length of the course
- Adding/removing the number of items to search for based on your patient’s functional activity tolerance over time
- Time them and have them do laps trying to beat their last time
6. Balance Training
With aging comes an inevitable change in overall balance and postural stability, a change that is usually negative. Taking a patient for a stroll around the facility is one way to address balance, or progressive balance by standing on an aeromat, but why not make it more engaging?
Here are a couple OT treatment ideas for SNF, including setting up a scavenger hunt and place items in such a way that challenges every aspect of balance including standing, reaching while bending down, reaching overhead, reaching multiple directions to challenge trunk stability, and so on.
Don’t forget to make balance progressive and have an objective measure in place so you know where to start!
Using Activity Analysis To Come Up With OT Treatment Ideas for SNF
How can you use something like a scavenger hunt to address your patient’s occupational therapy goals like toileting, bathing or meal prep?
Activity analysis helps you be able to not only determine what body functions you need to work on with your patient during the activity, but it helps you explain to your patient exactly what you are working on and how it correlates to their goals.
A patient you are seeing in the nursing home has a goal to be able to return home using their new manual wheelchair. They need to be able to navigate around barriers, etc, but their biggest barrier is endurance utilizing the wheelchair, which was established through the activity analysis. They have done plenty of upper extremity and core exercises and they are getting bored with using the wheelchair up and down the halls.
So, you decide to set up a scavenger hunt within the facility and therapy gym with a list of items they need to acquire before they come back to you. You will time them and see how long they can perform wheelchair mobility before requiring a rest break, challenging them to keep going a few seconds longer each time.
Using a scavenger hunt is one of many occupational therapy treatment ideas for adults that you can use to have fun, get your patients moving and to address goals that mean the most to them. Just remember to keep things fun, safe, and challenging enough to help your patients grow.