Ceramics - Ideal Activity for Short Stay and Long-Term Residents

Fun activity for all ages and it works with rehab patients

Teacher guiding mature students painting pottery in studio
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The activity director of an assisted living home serving long- and short-term care residents can often feel pulled in two directions. How to provide regular activities residents look forward to while creating programs that entice rehab patients? Ceramics can be a fun activity for short stay and long-term residents.

You can build interest by creating projects that teach a new skill. These classes give temporary residents a chance to come and participate and can also be a starting point for an ongoing activity for long-term residents.

Ceramics can be molding wet clay and painting or completing ready-to-paint pottery.

Supplies needed:

  • tables
  • tablecloths or paper coverings
  • clay
  • tools
  • paint
  • brushes
  • cups for water
  • paper towels

The program can accommodate men and women of all ages and abilities, according to Caetlyn Carroll, artist and owner of Milmont Mud Hut, a studio which brings ceramic projects to facilities in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

“Everything can be done sitting down. There is no standing or leg movement required. Ceramics is all in the hands,” Carroll said. “Residents with low vision love working with wet clay because they can feel the texture and are able to shape an object to their own choosing.” And tailoring activities increases resident/patient satisfaction too.

Ceramics can be done by men and woman and by all age groups. It works well for an inter-generational activity.

It is a great activity for the monthly men's group.

Members can select an item they want to make and work in a male-only environment.

Ceramics can solve the “what to do with my rehab residents” problem. Sometimes activity directors are challenged to create programs when it comes to rehab residents. These short termers often give the following excuses for not wanting to join established calendar activities:

  1. I don’t want to be with "those people."
    Some rehab residents don’t want to mingle with long-term residents because it may bring up feelings about their own health concerns and possible future limitations.
  2. I don’t want to be the new kid.
    This is rehab residents expressing their concerns of breaking into an established social group.
  3. Why join something when I’m only here a few days?
  4. Why join an activity when I can sit here in my room and watch TV?
    Rehab translation – what’s in it for me?

Ceramics can answer these concerns and at the same time foster person-centered care, a key component of culture change in long-term care:

  1. Ceramics is something that is done in the general population by healthy individuals so it does not have the stigma of being, “just for nursing home folks”.
  2. Each time working with clay is different, beginner or expert, each person starts each project with the same blank slate.
  3. Rehab residents can start, finish and take home a completed ceramic within their stay.
  4. Ceramics is a safe, easy way to try something new in a no pressure setting.

    Ceramics programs can run between 1.5 to two hours in length and all work must be professionally fired in a kiln, Carroll said. A wet clay project needs time to dry and must be fired twice. Ready to paint pottery requires one firing. Ceramics can be a part of your ​art program too. After all creativity in any form helps express individuality.

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