Theraputic ideas for patient activities


I am a psych nurse on a adult unit. I am looking for ideas that would be great for patients. I don't feel Luke patients staying in bed all day sleeping and doing group that they don't want to attend is very helpful for healing or recovery. Any ideas are helpful. And would love to hear experiences from others.

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,979 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 20 years experience.

I'm not a psych nurse, but I have been a patient and the most awesome "therapy" for me was drumming circle. They had all kinds of drums for us to try, and we sat on the floor and played, changing out drums for others every now and then. The cool thing was, we fell into a rhythm and drummed together in a way that was almost primal...the experience of it was amazing! It was better than meds for making me relax and feel better about myself.


462 Posts

I love the idea of a drumming circle! Art therapy is very popular, even if it's just coloring or playing with clay.

Specializes in Critical Care, Med-Surg, Psych, Geri, LTC, Tele,.

Try to determine which activities the pts/consumers enjoy. Some like coloring, or drawing. Some like dominoes or card games. Some like basketball. These were activities I observed when I worked in psych.

There were also therapeutic games some enjoyed. E.g. You catch a ball and answer the question on the area your hand touches; or board games that teach coping and/or life skills.


168 Posts

Specializes in Psychiatric. Has 5 years experience.

Are (some) people staying on the inpatient unit able to leave accompanied by staff? Any activity which subjects them to our good friend Mr Sun is worthwhile. The vitamin D, as we all know, can benefit people hugely.

1. A walk around the park, allowing people to stop for a cigarette, watch the ducks/water/tree branches swinging, sit down and meditate, breathe in fresh air etc. If you have access to the ocean is even better.

2. People who can't leave the ward: Can you approach management for a raised garden bed in the courtyard? People can potter in the garden, plant, care for and harvest veges etc.

3. Education: The intelligence and ability of people on the inpatient unit is often overlooked. Some education sessions, particularly by guest speakers, can inspire and renew interest in pursuing career/educational goals.

4. Ownership. Often people who are on the inpatient unit have experienced a lot of losses (loss of friends/family/job/confidence/skills/children... the list goes on) and they often feel genuine despair and a feeling of 'What have I got to offer?'. Talk with the people on the unit and you may be surprised to find skills and talents they may be able to share with other people. Even if it's co-faciliatating with you so they don't feel overwhelmed. Find strengths from people staying on the unit and ask if they would be happy to share their knowledge about a particular skill or interest. They may be happy to give a talk to other people or they may just want to tell you to pass it on on their behalf. Give them feedback afterwards if this is the case.

I know we all know this, but people staying on the inpatient unit have lives outside which include interests, passions, jobs, careers, education, knowledge... Let's not forget these just because they need acute care for a while.


39 Posts

Many patients like the adult coloring books.

I also taught finger knitting in an adult unit and it was a HUGE hit with women AND men. Patients were so proud of their accomplishment.

We finger knit a scarf. No needles needed, so there was no danger with sharp objects. 1 skein of bulky yarn us all you need. The scarf had to be put away until after discharge for safety reasons. Search YouTube for "finger knit scarf" for instructions.

I recommend "Sticky mosaics" kits too. Google it for a picture.

SwampCat, BSN

310 Posts

Specializes in Psychiatry. Has 3 years experience.

Jenga with questions about goals, coping skills, aspirations, etc on each block