Activity cards

Hand massage

Hand movements and hand massage – significant touch

Our hands hold stories of life and experience. They’re one of our bodies most used tools. 

This activity allows for celebrating our hands and their own individual stories.

Using gestures, waving, signalling and then finishing off with a massage we pay homage to their experiences.

Start by simply talking about the life of our hands, demonstrate simple actions like imitating rainfall with your fingers, to waving to acknowledge each other or signalling like pointing and whoever’s pointed at points at someone else. 

Talk about work experiences, crafts, raising children, housework, labour and also picking daisies in a field and making daisy chains. This activity is open ended, and you can allow it to organically take route from the stories in the room. 

You could teach participants to sign their name in sign language, make up short routines to music they like, or mimic animals in hand gestures. Just have fun with it and see where it leads. 

Examples like capturing short videos or purely performing to one another. Really take a moment to enjoy and explore the hands.

Finish with a massage for the participant. A gentle and soothing response to whatever came out of the activity. 

I have attached two videos, one is hand massage techniques for both left and right. When you work with the resident ensure you are both comfortable. 

The second video is the alphabet in sign language.

Materials Required:

  • a light, sensitive hand cream or oil
  • hands
  • a spotlight or directional lamp if wanting to make shadow puppets.

Step by Step Guide:

  1. Open with allowing group to know this activity ends with a hand massage. A reward for all their creative input
  2. Using gestures on your desired topic get those fingers wriggling
  3. Talk about experiences of individuals in the room. Use these to make gestures you can put to music, perhaps film. For those struggling they can sign name or demonstrate emotion or animal movements. Just have fun with it, no pressure
  4. Begin massage on residents in turn.
  5. As you perform massage keep up a conversation as a group or on a one to one basis

Ideas for Further Activities With This Idea:

Have a beauty afternoon/spa day in the lounge. Maybe incorporate gentle scalp massages, hair brushing or manicures. Suggest wearing a favourite piece of jewellery and talking about the history of these items.

Include a manicure and when the room is feeling pampered put on some music and sing, dance with hands and those more able can dance whatever way they’d like.

Working with light and shadow puppetry.

After other activities or workshops. A simple hand massage allows for participant to feel eased and appreciated for their work and taking part


Ways to adapt for less able residents:

Allow the resident to share stories as they receive the massage. Even if they just receive the massage, the act of touch is a very connecting tool and can be used to calm and sooth anxiety or just to make someone feel involved.

Ways to adapt from group to individual and vice versa: 

This activity as a one on one would be a more personal experience, you could tailor the outcome to the individual’s story and have a real connecting moment with that person.

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