Purposeful activities for people with dementia: a resource

Purposeful Activities for Dementia is a Montessori-based professional development and education resource developed for aged care and dementia care staff and carers.

This resource is part of a project that recently piloted a the Montessori approach to activities in two planned aged care activity groups in Melbourne.

The project was funded by the Commonwealth and Victorian Governments under the Home & Community Care Program (HACC) and was led by Dementia Australia Vic. Purposeful activities for dementia complements other professional development resources about engaging people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, including the Relate Motivate Appreciate toolkit. Purposeful activities for dementia was developed by Dementia Australia VIC for families and aged care staff.

Purposeful Activities for Dementia offers practical ways that carers – including activity support workers, personal care attendants and other aged care professionals – can work together to engage people living with dementia in purposeful activities at home and in social groups.

What is Montessori?

Montessori is one person-centred approach to education and engagement. The following video by Dementia Australia VIC explores the way in which Montessori techniques can enrich the lives of people living with dementia. Many of the educational activities in the following video are based on this approach.

How to use this video resource

The video and reflection resource has been provided for anyone interested in providing people with dementia a range of interesting, encouraging and enriching activities: aged care staff, family carers, activity support workers, personal care attendants in residential and community settings, and people with dementia who want a resource to advocate for purposeful activities.

The video is divided into six chapters. Each chapter summarises key messages and provides points for reflection. You can watch the entire video, or each individual chapter below.

As you watch the videos, we invite you to work through this resource with the accompanying Purposeful Activities Reflection workbook (click here to download).



Purposeful Activities for Dementia: A Montessori-based resource for healthcare professionals

Purposeful Activities: Chapter One

Chapter 1 highlights the importance of purposeful engagement in encouraging independence, offering choice, maintaining connections with others and generally supporting well-being.This chapter also describes different types of Montessori-based purposeful engagement and illustrates different ways to meaningfully engage people with dementia. Viewers are reminded that it is the person with dementia who decides what activities are purposeful and meaningful to them.

Purposeful Activities: Chapter Two

Chapter 2 demonstrates that knowing the person behind their dementia is essential for developing purposeful activities. Effective partnerships between aged care staff and families assist with the development of activities that are based on the person’s interests and hobbies. In social groups, information about common interests can assist with planning smaller group activities.

Purposeful Activities: Chapter Three

In Chapter 3, viewers are encouraged to offer opportunities for purposeful engagement based on the person’s strengths rather than what the person can no longer do. Self-esteem, identity and dignity are supported through activities in which the person is likely to succeed. Simple ways for assessing strengths are suggested under four categories of ability: sensory, motor, cognitive, and social.

Purposeful Activities: Chapter Four

Chapter 4 highlights the importance of understanding the level of support required by the person with dementia. This includes their physical and emotional health, as well as the impact of their dementia. An enabling environment is important for supporting meaningful engagement and independence at home and in social groups. The environment includes both physical surroundings and relationships between everyone involved in supporting the person with dementia.

Purposeful Activities: Chapter Five

Chapter 5 provides practical examples of how to create meaningful activities based on knowledge of the person’s interests, strengths and support needs. This knowledge can also be used to develop activities in social groups for people with dementia who share common interests. Intergenerational activities are highlighted as an example of an activity that provides opportunities for people with dementia to share their skills with children and maintain connections to the wider community.

Purposeful Activities: Chapter Six

Chapter 6 presents practical ways of maximising engagement, choice and independence for people with dementia during activity sessions. This chapter also highlights the importance of working together to create opportunities for purposeful engagement for people with dementia at home and in social groups.


Other resources for Healthcare Professionals: