How the National Activity Providers Association is helping to enrich the lives of disabled and elderly people through personalised services. 

The current concerns about the funding of social care and how to deal with an ageing population have highlighted the need to review how we manage our care homes and provide an enriching environment for residents. This is a challenge that the National Activity Providers Association (NAPA) is acutely aware of and they changing the culture of activity provision.

NAPA is a membership organisation for people involved in providing activities for individuals within care homes, day centres, hospitals or living in their own home.

Its aim is to connect, signpost, encourage and motivate anyone with an interest in improving the lifestyle and well-being of individuals in care.  A large part of NAPA’s work is providing training for care staff so they can provide person centered activities for individuals in care settings.   

“Personal programmes are created from the needs, interests and abilities of the individual receiving care, so for example if four people are interested in art and six like gardening, separate groups are set up for them to enjoy these activities,” says Sue Trischitta, NAPA’s Training and Development Manager. “ Care staff will also consult with family members as well to get the full picture of the individual, so that everything an individual does has a personal meaning.”

There are two qualifications offered by NAPA ; the Level 2 Award in Supporting Activity Provision in Social Care and the Level 3 Certificate in Activity Provision in Social Care. Both qualifications were developed in partnership with OCN London and Skills for Care, specifically to meet the changing needs of the care sector.

The main aim is to build the understanding of the importance of activity and what activity is. The reality is that activity is everything a person does from the moment they get up in the morning until they go to sleep at night.

“Sometimes care staff may be carrying out an activity without really appreciating that they are actually doing an activity,” explains Sue. “ Chatting to a resident while helping them to wash and dress is an activity. If an individual’s day is full of moments of meaning, and conversations that are relevant then the individual’s quality of life will be enhanced.

As many care staff work shifts, it’s not feasible for care workers to attend classes at fixed times. Therefore, distance learning is the best option, with courses taught in a similar way to the Open University. Staff are set assignments which they deliver by email. These are then marked by Tutors, reviewed by Internal Verifiers and checked by OCN London’s External Verifiers.  

NAPA uses an innovative approach through the use of video assessment. On the Certificate in Activity Provision course, learners record their work and send it back as an email attachment to demonstrate how they have applied their learning in the workplace.  Other members of staff use video as a confidence-building tool as well. One exercise is asking people to do a piece to camera showing us how they support volunteers in the care home, some of these videos go on to be part of the induction for all care staff and volunteers.

“At first the students are often very shy, but by the second assessment they’re positively glowing and you can see the changes and their confidence growing,” says Sue. “One person said it changed her whole practice, by the end of the course she was working quite differently. The increased confidence this gives people has made a huge difference to the lives of the residents in their care.”

Both courses require a high level of commitment from the care workers as they usually have to complete their assignments at home. The Level 2 course takes four to six months and the Level 3 six to nine months. Both national qualifications are portable, so make a good addition to a cv and staff records.  NAPA is now looking at the possibility of developing higher qualifications at Level 4 and 5 in activity provision to keep pace with its ever growing importance. NAPA is also expanding the charity’s remit to the field of Learning Disability.