Activity Card Sort

Uncover the benefits of the Activity Card Sort — an intuitive tool for assessing lifestyle changes used by health professionals for effective patient care.

By Emma Hainsworth on May 15, 2024.

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What is an Activity Card Sort (ACS)?

The activity card sort is an established, user-friendly assessment tool to measure an individual's participation levels in various activities. It employs a deck of activity cards, each illustrating different instrumental, social, and leisure activities.

The activity cards act as a potent visual aid, stimulating the individuals' memory and prompting them to reflect on their past and current engagement levels in these activities. The individual then sorts these cards into categories—representing activities they're currently doing, activities they've discontinued, and activities they aspire to undertake.

Healthcare professionals, particularly occupational therapists, leverage the ACS to discern how an individual's illness, disability, or aging impacts their daily living, involvement in diverse activities, and overall quality of life. The insights gleaned from the ACS can pave the way for personalized and effective rehabilitation and treatment plans.

The ACS is a well-recognized measure of activity engagement, particularly for older individuals. Its 2nd edition (Baum and Edwards, 2008) comprises 89 photograph cards for activities grouped into four categories: Instrumental, Low & High Demand Leisure, and Social. It also includes Recovery, Institutional, and Community Living Versions and employs different sorting categories of engagement and scoring methods.

‍The ACS is important for creating an occupational history, as well as recording any changes in activity participation. Changes such as a stroke or aging may result in less time engaged in activities. However, it is important to note that ACS does not provide information pertaining to the frequency of participation, nor any social inactions or difficulties experienced while performing an activity.

Printable Activity Card Sort

Download this Activity Card Sort to assess patient lifestyle changes.

Printable Activity Card Sort

Download this Activity Card Sort to assess patient lifestyle changes.

How does this Activity Card Sort work?

Administering the Activity Card Sort entails several crucial steps encompassing engagement and evaluation.

Step 1: Distribution of activity cards 

To begin the process, the individual taking part in the assessment is handed a collection of activity cards. Each card depicts a unique daily living, social, or leisure activity that the individual may partake in.

Step 2: Sorting the activity cards 

Next, the individual is asked to categorize these activity cards into distinct groups based on their current level of participation. This categorization is typically segmented into four groups: activities done now, activities done in the past but not presently, activities desired to be done, and activities never done before.

Step 3: Scoring the activity cards 

Following the sorting phase, each activity card is scored to represent the individual's current engagement level with the depicted activity. These scores are calculated using the percentage of retained and discarded activities within each category, providing a robust, quantifiable dataset.

Step 4: Creating a comprehensive activity profile 

Finally, the compiled scores are utilized to generate an in-depth profile of the individual's lifestyle and activities. This profile can then inform tailored intervention plans, facilitate shared decision-making, and evaluate the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions. It helps to identify areas where the individual might require additional support or changes to their care plan, enabling healthcare professionals to personalize treatments effectively.

Activity Card Sort examples (sample)

Let's illustrate the process of ACS with a hypothetical individual named Sarah. The cards represent various activities, including gardening, cooking, socializing, and jogging.

Current engagement

Suppose Sarah is an avid gardener who spends time in her garden every day. She sorts the gardening card into the "Currently Engaging" category. This shows that she is actively involved in gardening at present.

Discontinued activities

Next, consider cooking. Sarah used to cook frequently but has recently stopped due to time constraints. Therefore, the cooking card goes into the "Discontinued" category. This helps identify activities Sarah once enjoyed but is no longer participating in.

Desired activities

Sarah has always enjoyed being around people and wishes to spend more time socializing post-pandemic. She places the socializing card in the "Desired" category. This indicates activities that she intends to engage in in the future.

Never engaged activities

Even though Sarah understands the importance of physical fitness, she has never been into jogging. Therefore, the jogging card goes into the "Never Engaged" category. This category is important as it can help identify potential new activities that might improve Sarah's quality of life.

Through this detailed example, it's clear that the Activity Card Sort provides a comprehensive view of an individual's activity patterns. It captures their current participation, identifies lost leisure or daily activities, and uncovers future aspirations, ultimately aiding healthcare professionals in developing personalized care and treatment plans.

Download this Activity Card Sort Example:

Activity Card Sort Example (Sample)

When to use an Activity Card Test

The Activity Card Test is particularly appropriate to use in scenarios where there is a need to assess the impact of various conditions, such as illness, disability, or age, on an individual's participation in daily life activities. This could include situations where a person has undergone a significant life change, such as a new medical diagnosis, injury, or transition into old age, potentially affecting their ability to engage in daily tasks.

Occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals may utilize this tool when developing a comprehensive understanding of a person's lifestyle, quality of life, and levels of involvement in various activities is essential for planning personalized rehabilitation or treatment strategies.‍

It's also fitting to employ the Activity Card Test when there's a requirement to track changes in a person's activity engagement over time, for example, pre- and post-intervention, to measure the effectiveness of specific treatments or programs.

Lastly, using the Activity Card Test when identifying participation restrictions is appropriate. These are potential problems an individual might face regarding their degree or style of engagement in life situations. By recognizing these restrictions, professionals can target their interventions to enhance the individual's participation and thereby improve their quality of life.

Who is this Activity Card Sort PDF for?

This Activity Card Sort (ACS) PDF is a remarkably adaptable tool designed to cater to a diverse group of professionals and individuals. It offers a comprehensive yet straightforward way to gauge changes in lifestyle and daily activities. Here are a few key stakeholders who can benefit from it:

  • Occupational therapists: These professionals often find the ACS invaluable. It enables them to assess how illness or disability is impacting an individual's day-to-day activities and overall lifestyle. The resulting insights can shape personalized interventions for better patient outcomes.
  • Health professionals: Medical practitioners such as doctors, nurses, and rehabilitation specialists can employ the ACS to gain a deeper understanding of a patient's lifestyle, specific needs, and alterations in activity engagement. This understanding can support holistic healthcare delivery, addressing not just the medical but also the social and personal aspects of well-being.
  • Individuals and caregivers: The ACS isn't just for professionals. Individuals living with illness, disability, or age-related changes can use it to communicate shifts in their lifestyle and the activities they aspire to engage in. Similarly, caregivers can use the ACS to better comprehend the person's capabilities and preferences, facilitating the formulation of a tailored care plan that resonates with the individual's needs and aspirations.

The Activity Card Sort PDF is a versatile tool that bridges the understanding between healthcare providers and recipients and enhances the quality and effectiveness of care and treatment plans.

It is also suitable for a wide range of clients, including those with:

  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cancer
  • PTSD
  • Limited English language abilities
  • Disability transitions
  • Stems cell transplants
  • Cognitive deficits
  • Dementia

Why use Carepatron as your Activity Card Sort App?

Using Carepatron as your Activity Card Sort app offers several benefits, particularly for occupational therapists, rehabilitation specialists, and other healthcare professionals who utilize activity analysis. Here’s why Carepatron stands out:

  • Digital organization of activities: Carepatron allows for the digital organization and categorization of activities commonly used in Activity Card Sort. This feature enhances the ease and efficiency of selecting and sorting activities tailored to individual client needs.
  • Customizable and interactive: With Carepatron's clinical documentation tools, therapists can customize their own sets of activity cards. They can add images, descriptions, and even interactive elements to make the activity sorting process more engaging for clients.
  • Secure client data management: Utilizing Carepatron’s electronic health records, therapists can securely store and manage client data, including their responses and preferences in the Activity Card Sort. This is essential for tracking progress and planning future therapy sessions.
  • Integrated practice management: The practice management software streamlines various aspects of clinical practice. This integration is particularly beneficial for therapists who use Activity Card Sort as part of a broader therapeutic approach, allowing for seamless management of client appointments, progress notes, and treatment plans.
  • Telehealth capabilities: For therapists who offer remote services, Carepatron's telehealth feature is invaluable. It allows for the virtual administration of the Activity Card Sort, enabling therapists to engage with clients who are unable to attend in-person sessions.
  • Real-time collaboration and sharing: Therapists can use the platform to share activity card results and insights with colleagues or other healthcare providers involved in the client's care. This collaboration can lead to more holistic and coordinated treatment plans.
  • Continuous support and updates: Carepatron provides ongoing support and regular updates, ensuring that users have access to the latest features and improvements for their therapy practice management needs.

In summary, Carepatron offers a comprehensive, secure, and user-friendly solution for managing the Activity Card Sort process in therapeutic settings. Its combination of digital organization, customization, and integrated practice management tools makes it an ideal choice for healthcare professionals seeking to enhance their client engagement and therapy outcomes.

General Practice Software
What is the Activity Card Sort (ACS) and how is it used in occupational therapy?
What is the Activity Card Sort (ACS) and how is it used in occupational therapy?

Commonly asked questions

What is the Activity Card Sort (ACS) and how is it used in occupational therapy?

The Activity Card Sort (ACS) is a therapeutic assessment tool used in occupational therapy to evaluate a client's activity patterns and occupational participation. It consists of a card sort that helps to identify daily living activities that are meaningful to the client. The ACS is commonly used with various populations, including healthy older adults, those with high physical demand leisure interests, and individuals with disabilities like multiple sclerosis or undergoing stem cell transplantation.

How does the Activity Card Sort cater to different physical demand levels and populations?

AThe ACS is designed with a focus on both high- and low-demand physical leisure activities. It accommodates diverse client groups, including community-dwelling older adults, the homeless, and rehabilitation patients. The test includes a range of activity cards that represent various daily living tasks, allowing therapists to tailor the assessment to their clients' specific needs and abilities, whether they are looking for low-demand leisure activities or have higher physical capabilities.

What are the psychometric properties of the Activity Card Sort?

The Activity Card Sort has been evaluated for its psychometric properties, including test-retest reliability, internal consistency (measured by Cronbach's alpha), and convergent validity. Several studies have contributed to understanding its reliability and validity in assessing occupational participation and well-being among different populations.

Are there different versions of the Activity Card Sort for varied applications?

Yes, the Activity Card Sort has three versions: the original version, the ACS-AUS (Australian version), and a version for homeless populations. These versions were developed to cater to specific groups and contexts.

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