Inactivity is highly prevalent among nursing home residents. This has many disadvantages, both physically and mentally. Hence, it is very important to develop and offer a challenging span of meaningful physical activities, matching with the preferences and abilities of residents. Tools to assess preferred activities systematically are hardly available yet. We therefore developed and tested such a tool (“MIBBO” = Methodiek ter Inventarisatie van Betekenisvolle Beweegvoorkeuren van Ouderen): Assessment of  Meaningful Physical Activities for Elderly people.

An interdisciplinary team of care professionals and researchers constructed  the tool, specifically aimed at residents in longterm care facilities. Its feasibility was evaluated among 10 nursing home residents (both in somatic and psychogeriatric wards) and their caregivers.

The approach consists of three steps and takes about 30 minutes to administer. It starts with a photo interview; residents assess and rank photo’s of 30 physical activities (e.g. walking, gardening; if needed family members are involved). These photo’s are sorted into two piles (“yes, I like to do that” versus “no, I’m not interested”). As a next step the resident is asked to select her/his top 5 of activities, including preferences regarding performing the activity (e.g. alone or in a group, preferred time of the day). Finally, an individual plan is made regarding the preferred activities.

Both residents and care staff assessed the systematic approach as feasible and promising, especially the photo interview part. Further research is needed to determine the added value of this tool in reducing residents’ inactivity, and implementation of the activity plan in overall care plans.