Activity Director Room Visit Ideas for Nursing Home Residents

Sensory stimulation is used during some room visit programming for bed bound nursing home residents. Residents that are bed bound and not as responsive as they used to be can possibly benefit from a strong sensory stimulation program. Tailor design this program to meet each of your residents needs.
The following are suggestions for the five senses:


This is an all time favorite that cannot be over looked. Do your research about your resident’s preferences and it can improve their quality of life. If the resident does not have equipment available, contact family members or responsible party to see if they will assist. Some libraries have a lending program for playing books on tape/CD and will also loan the player.

Play CD’s, cassettes, records, MP3 songs, musical DVD’s. Use your imagination. Find out resident’s favorite musical selection but continue to offer a variety to stave off boredom.

Essential Fragrance Oils (and how to use)

A good rule of thumb is to use peppermint scents in the morning hours and lavender scents in the afternoon and evening hours. We want to stimulate the mind and awaken the senses in the morning with peppermint and calm the senses in the afternoon and evening hours. Also try lavender with residents that are agitated about taking their shower or bath. Explore many scents.

A drop of Essential Fragrance Oil on a small piece of flannel tucked into a pocket or pinned onto clothing.

Essential Fragrance Oil in a Spray bottle full of water with 10 – 30 drops of essential fragrance oil added. Spray around room. Small drop on a cotton ball. Lavender Essential Fragrance Oil drops placed into a spray bottle (with water) sprayed around someone’s room that has insomnia or evening agitation.

Peppermint Essential Fragrance Oil used to stimulate and wake up.


Purchase at the grocery store. Orange, lemon, peppermint, vanilla, root beer. Put on a cotton ball and let resident smell. Use one cotton ball per resident as to not share germs. This is a good source for fragrance scents if you are not able to find essential oils.


Make sure to check for possible allergies.

Try older known lotion scents such as Rose Milk and Jergens.


Place your residents hand onto the item of texture. Let them feel it. Talk to them about what they are touching. If the person is nonresponsive, then describe a place that they may feel the item.

Example: “Mr. Jones do you feel the leaves? These leaves are from the tree outside. They are beautiful fall leaves with bright colors. We have bright yellow, brown and red leaves. Do you enjoy the fall? Fall is when all of the leaves change colors and then fall to the ground before winter”?

Remember to disinfect items between residents to prevent cross contamination.







*Bubble wrap

*Sand paper

*Smooth metal chain

*Faux fur


Use sounds to stimulate and to promote a conversation. Even if you must carry on a one sided conversation, you can ask the resident questions about the sounds. See if there are any facial expressions when certain sounds are played. Sounds can be downloaded from the internet, you can record them using a cassette recorder or they are even on some children’s games amp; toys. *Be careful not to upset a resident with some sounds. Some women may get upset if she thought the baby was not being taken care of well with the crying baby sound.

*Nature sounds

*Baby crying




*Traffic sounds

*Ship horn

*Old typewriter

*Lawn mower

*Bath water

Read to resident

Read to all residents even those that are nonresponsive. You can promote thought patterns and possibly bring some joy into their small world. Try different topics and see if there is a facial response.


*Short Stories



*Holiday stories

*Patriotic stories

*Church bulletin

*Personalized story

*Stories about animals

*The Bible

*Daily scripture verse

*Daily devotion

*Bible stories

*Monthly newsletter


Taste is a sense that we must be very careful in exploring with sensory stimulation. Before trying any tasting activity make sure to check the current diet for your resident. This is to make sure that there are no diet restrictions.

Have fun in coming up with new tools and items to use during your room visit sensory stimulation program. This type of programming requires a creative desire to make the best program possible for your resident.