Many nursing homes employ social events coordinators to ensure that nursing home residents receive a high level of social and mental stimulation in addition to physical care. Social events coordinators must carefully plan and select events that enable residents to interact with their environment and include as many residents as possible.
Nursing home activities can include religious services when enough nursing home residents share a religious faith to hold a service. Many lay and professional religious leaders will agree to come to a nursing home to lead a service for free, even if it means conducting a service for a small group of people. For many people who adhere to a religious belief, expressing their religious faith in the community setting of a nursing home and participating in the traditional rituals and customs can offer them needed comfort as they worship in their familiar manner.
Coordinators can organise holiday celebrations during holiday times. During these yearly cycles, school, church and religious groups often volunteer to come to nursing homes to sing and entertain the nursing home residents. Nursing home residents may feel less isolated from their families, homes and friends if they can enjoy the holiday celebrations in the nursing home and create their own community as they celebrate together.
Many nursing home residents enjoy musical programs such as sing-a-longs or performances by musicians who volunteer to come and entertain the residents. The coordinator can invite residents' family members or other members of the community to add spirit and volume to a sing-a-long when appropriate.
Coordinators may provide opportunities for nursing home residents to play games such as chess, draughts, and bingo. Residents may participate according to their level of function. Some coordinators schedule game days when volunteers can sit with residents who need help with the small motor movements necessary to play the games. Games and other community activities allow the nursing home residents to interact with their friends and acquaintances, to enjoy the stimulation of interactive events and to participate in the nursing home's community life.
Discussion groups can stimulate residents and create an atmosphere of excitement and energy. Many nursing home residents enjoy debating news items and current events, and although they may have physical limitations, their still-sharp mental states allow them to engage in lively discussions. Regular opportunities to view the news (many nursing homes have lobbies with the nightly news available) will encourage timely debates.
Many residents of nursing homes enjoy classes such as art and music. If the nursing home has a library, a coordinator can easily schedule a weekly book club. Nursing homes can solicit book donations from residents' families as well as local community groups.
Pet therapy has become popular in many nursing homes. The nursing home coordinator can arrange visits from a local pet therapy organisation, and volunteers will bring in animals for residents to pet and cuddle. In a study reported in the September 1992 issue of the "Medical Journal of Australia," The Baker Medical Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia found that the presence of animals lowers blood pressure and stress levels. Many nursing home coordinators schedule regular pet therapy days in their nursing homes' program schedules.