Group Interventions & Technology
Updated: Jan 12, 2019
Looking for a engaging group activity? I’m always trying to find new ways to use technology in my interventions. In my level one fieldwork, I was at mental health placement, for people 55+, where the clients loved playing Wheel of Fortune. It was played mostly like hangman on a whiteboard. The OT would choose a phrase and the clients would guess the letter or solve it. The phrase would usually be related to something going on in the news and this would spark a conversation for the group. The space was limited for gameplay and the whiteboard would have to be tilted for people to see or they simply couldn’t see the gameboard because of its size. For many of the clients with vision difficulties it was challenging to play.
I thought overall the game played pretty well, but I wanted to use the large screen tv to cast the game. There are many online versions of Wheel of Fortune to choose from, but they all lacked one thing, custom phrases. One of the best part of the activity was being able to prepare phrases that could start a conversation. I found that someone had recreated the game using Microsoft Powerpoint. It had animations like the TV version and various types of rounds. In addition, you could prepare and store multiple phrases for the group and it had many added features from the real game. One important addition was that this version had a virtual wheel that you could spin with the keyboard space bar. This was great because it added in pretend money and the chance to hit “bancrupt” or ”lose a turn.”
I wanted to add another way for clients to engage directly with the game and control the wheel. I linked a large squishy momentary button to the computer that could act like a spacebar using a Makey Makey circuit board. This addition of controlling the game with a simple switch and having that element of chance at each spin of the wheel was, for some people, really transformative. I remember one person in particular that at the start of the session was very quiet and showed little interest in being in the group. After a few minutes of playing the game he became loud, assisted others on gameplay, and would perform a large wind up move to press the spin button.
Many of the people in the group demonstrated full engagement in a leisure occupation and we able to work together in an activity that was fun and novel. Sometimes just finding joy in being with others and doing is a hurdle. For a time, I believe many were about to experience joy and happiness with others. If you’re interested in trying this in your practice here are the materials.
List material and equipment needed:
Have computer with Wheel of Fortune. A touch screen can make conducting the game really efficient.
Load PTT file https://tinyurl.com/y863m6dh
Add your own custom phrases
HDMI cord to project to in room TV
Have alphabet on paper for lower cognitive cues
Make a simple button for controlling the wheel