Color & Control:

Social Model of Care and Engagement

Activities can be anything: a conversation, a walk, listening to music or watching birds.

By Scott Silknitter

rccm-innovators1There are many chronic issues that can affect both young and old: dementia, traumatic brain injury (TBI), developmental disabilities, and the list goes on. While we focus on helping these individuals on the clinical side, we must not forget the social side of care. Activities and engagement are such crucial aspects to overall care that in many cases governments require care plans to use a person-centred approach that includes daily activities based on the individual’s personal preferences. Activities can be anything: a conversation, a walk, listening to music or watching birds. (Bingo is not the only option!)

The concept of using activities in a medical setting has a history dating back to the 1500s. In the 1800s, Florence Nightingale advised her nurses to use music and face-to-face conversations with patients. Here is a quote from the founder of modern nursing regarding activities: “A little needlework, a little writing, a little cleaning would be the greatest relief the sick could have…” Remember, an activity can be anything as long as the person is engaged.

The use of person-centred/person-appropriate activities can provide positive effects for individuals on many levels. Here are just a few:
• Minimize behavioural changes.
• Improve sleep habits.
• Increase mental and social stimulation.
• Decrease depression.
• Improve self-esteem.
• Reduce caregiver stress.

You can improve the quality of life for the person you care for—as well as your own—through activities and engagement. Commit to just one activity per day. To do that, we strongly encourage all caregivers to use the Four Pillars of Activities and Engagement:
1) Know your loved one/client: Be aware of their likes, preferences and desires.
2) Communicate for success: Use simple communication techniques to overcome barriers due to physical or cognitive issues.
3) Follow routines and preferences: As much as possible, maintain a daily routine and plan.
4) Plan, and execute, activities: Based on all the material you have gathered, plan and execute an activity that the individual is interested in and can accomplish. Set the person up for success!

The “How To’s” of Activities and Engagement are explored in several volumes of the “Activities for the Family Caregiver” book series from R.O.S. The best place to start is with the initial book from the series: Activities 101 for the Family Caregiver: How to Engage.

Inventor, author and speaker Scott Silknitter of Greensboro, NC, started R.O.S. Therapy Systems in 2010 as a project to help his mother and father in a 25-year battle with Parkinson’s disease and dementia. 

Today, R.O.S. improves quality of life through activities and education for caregivers and individuals with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, stroke, ALS, Huntington’s, TBI, developmental disability or any other health issue resulting in physical or cognitive impairment. The company’s teachings are based on the social model of care; it advises caregivers of all types
on how to engage and communicate, provides products to engage, and consults or coaches so people everywhere can Start Some Joy. 

For more information, please visit


Related Articles

Recent Articles

Complimentary Issue

If you would like to receive a free digital copy of this magazine enter your email.